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An Employer’s Liability for Allowing Dogs at Work

As employers have moved toward a more casual work environment, some have begun to allow employees to bring their dogs to work. When such a policy works, everyone in the office enjoys having a dog or two around, the dogs are friendly and unobtrusive, and the dog owners get to avoid paying for dog care or worrying about a dog left at home all day. But if a dog causes significant injuries to an employee, whether from biting or knocking the employee down, what options does the injured employee have to recover compensation? There are two potential avenues to consider: workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.

Dogs and workers’ compensation

With respect to an employer’s liability, workers’ compensation rules apply to most injuries that arise out of or in the course of employment. Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, which means that if an injury falls within the scope of workers’ compensation, the injured employee usually can’t sue the employer for personal injury. Instead, the employee files a workers’ comp claim to cover the costs associated with the injury. Because workers’ compensation is also a form of no-fault insurance, the insurer will not investigate whether the employee’s own negligence contributed to the injury. A workers’ compensation claim typically will cover medical bills, lost wages for someone who must take time off work, and potentially the cost of healing scars and other issues. An employer that allows dogs at work should have incorporated the presence of dogs into its workers’ compensation policy. If the employer did not, and the insurer refuses to cover the employee’s injuries, the employee will need to consult with an attorney to determine the best next steps with respect to the employer’s liability.

What about the dog’s owner?

The workers’ comp exclusive remedy rule only protects the employer. It does not apply to the coworker who owns the dog. Whether a lawsuit against the dog’s owner is appropriate depends on a number of factors, including: Is workers’ compensation insufficient to cover the expenses related to the injury? Did the dog’s owner behave in an especially negligent or intentional manner to cause or contribute to the injury? Did the owner knowingly bring a dangerous dog to work? In some cases, the answer to the question of whether to pursue workers’ compensation or a lawsuit may be “both.” Someone who receives workers’ comp benefits cannot pursue the same types of compensation from a defendant but may be able to pursue other forms of compensation. Workers’ comp doesn’t provide compensation for cases of gross negligence, or for pain, suffering, or other forms of noneconomic damages.

GGRM handles dog bite litigation in Las Vegas

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. We can help you sort through your legal options if you have been injured by a dog at work. Reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Negligent Dog Owners Create Risks of Injury

A dog attack can leave the victim with permanent injuries and facing a long, painful road to recovery. Bite victims often experience psychological as well as physical trauma. Bites can also become infected and leave lasting scars. Given all these risks, it’s important for dog owners to take precautions to prevent their dogs from injuring others.

A Nevada dog owner’s legal responsibilities

Most dog attacks are preventable. They happen when a responsible person fails to take necessary steps to keep the dog under control. A person with responsibility for a dog has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from posing a threat of harm to other people and their property. Legal responsibility extends not only to the dog’s owner, but also to others who are entrusted with the dog’s care, such as a dog walker or sitter. Most of the specific rules governing dog ownership are covered in local ordinances. Las Vegas requires dogs to be licensed, vaccinated against rabies, and kept on leashes except when contained on the owner’s property or at authorized leash-free locations, like dog parks. Failing to comply with leashing or vaccination requirements may be negligence per se, allowing someone who is injured as a consequence of such a violation to shift the burden of proving negligence from the plaintiff to the defendant dog owner. A dog owner’s specific obligations to control the dog increase if the dog is known to have aggressive tendencies. Every dog is capable of biting, but not every dog responds to strangers with violence. Once a dog’s tendency to behave aggressively is known, the owner needs to take special steps to meet his or her obligation to take reasonable care. For example, if a homeowner keeps an aggressive dog in a yard all day, the homeowner must make sure that the dog can’t escape the yard.

Suing a dog’s owner for negligence

In the aftermath of being attacked by a dog the first priority should be to get medical care. But it’s important to take steps, if possible, to gather facts about the dog and its owner. The owner’s name and contact information should be obtained whenever possible. The victim and other witnesses to the attack should take notes about the circumstances that led to the attack: the time of day, whether the dog was leashed, the dog’s behavior prior to the attack, and so forth. Many dog bite cases are clear-cut. A dog owner walking an aggressive dog off leash in a city park shouldn’t be surprised if the dog ends up hurting someone. But some cases require a closer look at the facts, including the dog’s history, the behavior of the victim and the dog’s caretaker at the time of the incident, and so forth. A personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite litigation can help an injured person recover compensation. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in dog bite cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.