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Can a Dog Bite Victim be Blamed?

Many dog attacks feel like they happened out of the blue, when a seemingly docile animal suddenly turns aggressive. Sometimes the facts of a dog bite lend themselves to the argument that the bite victim caused the dog’s aggression or failed to act appropriately when a dog began showing signs of agitation. Such arguments in the legal context are called contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence under Nevada law

When a defendant in a personal injury case raises the contributory negligence defense, his or her goal is to transfer at least some of the blame for the plaintiff’s injury back onto the plaintiff. Contributory negligence can apply even if the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injury. It asserts that the plaintiff was also negligent in some way, and as a consequence of the plaintiff’s negligence the plaintiff’s injury occurred, or was made worse than otherwise would have been the case had the plaintiff not acted negligently. Negligence is a legal standard that applies when someone owes another person a legal duty of care and fails to meet that duty in some way. For example, a legal standard might state that individuals have an obligation to behave reasonably around dogs so as to prevent injuries to themselves and others. Nevada applies a modified contributory negligence rule. Under it, a plaintiff’s recovery against the defendant will be reduced by a percentage of fault that is assigned by a court to the plaintiff’s negligence. If the plaintiff is judged to have been 50% or more responsible for the injury, then the defendant will not be held liable for any damages.

What constitutes contributory negligence in a dog bite case?

Every dog bite case is different. A host of important facts can determine the course of the case. Those facts might include the sex and breed of the dog, the location of the event, whether or not the defendant (typically but not always the dog’s owner) was in breach of dog safety laws at the time, and so forth. Given all the variables it is difficult to describe for certain when contributory negligence might apply. In general contributory negligence may arise in a dog bite case where the plaintiff did something to provoke the dog. Typically a provocative act is something more than just acting in self defense. In other words, a person who responds to a dog barking aggressively at them by waving a stick at the dog might simply be protecting themselves, but someone who teases the dog or actively begins to attack it might be inviting aggressive behavior. Likewise, if the plaintiff disregards a “Beware of Dog” sign, or is committing an unrelated wrongful act, like trespassing, a contributory negligence defense might be more likely to apply.

GGRM is a Las Vegas dog bite injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and dog bite cases. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite and you aren’t sure how contributory negligence might factor into your case, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How Getting Hurt While Drunk May Affect a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Quite often the focus of discussions surrounding drinking and injuries is on the injuries caused by the drunk person. Alcohol abuse can lead to serious consequences, especially for drivers. But a drunk person can be injured in contexts other than where he or she was driving. The injured person may be hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim because of the stigmas associated with excessive drinking. But the fact that someone was drunk does not excuse the bad behavior of others.

A plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense

Personal injury lawsuits typically seek to prove that the defendant behaved negligently and, as a consequence, caused the plaintiff’s injury. Whether the defendant behaved negligently requires a close look at the circumstances of the injury itself. What obligations did the defendant owe to the plaintiff at the time? How did the defendant fail to meet those standards? Questions like these primarily focus on the defendant, not the plaintiff. If the plaintiff was drunk at the time the defendant caused the injury it is possible that the defendant will want to use the plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant can ask a court to reduce the amount the defendant is responsible for by a percentage that the court attributes to the fault of the plaintiff in causing the accident. If the court finds that the plaintiff was more than fifty percent at fault, the plaintiff won’t be allowed to recover anything from the defendant.

Examples

A key question in any comparative negligence case is the extent to which the plaintiff’s behavior really factored into the injury. Sometimes a plaintiff’s drunkenness isn’t relevant. Here are some examples where that might prove to be the case:
  • The defendant was lawfully crossing the street when the defendant ran a red light and struck the plaintiff.
  • The defendant, a grocery store, left a puddle of cooking oil on the floor of an aisle and the plaintiff slipped on it.
  • The defendant’s dog wasn’t leashed and attacked the plaintiff.
The more the plaintiff’s alcohol use factors into the injury, the more difficult it will be to avoid at least a portion of the liability being placed on the plaintiff. Here are some cases where the plaintiff’s drunkenness might matter:
  • The defendant, a shopping mall, failed to block off a section of floor that was under repair and visibly unsafe, and the plaintiff stumbled into it.
  • The plaintiff unexpectedly stumbled into the street and was struck by the defendant driver.
  • The plaintiff fell after climbing onto a ladder that the defendant had left standing against a wall.
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are happy to help people who have been injured resolve questions about whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate for their case. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.