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Safely Intervening in a Fight Between Dogs

Dog owners quickly learn to pay attention to their dogs’ behaviors around other animals. Running into other dogs is a common occurrence, whether on walks or at dog parks. Quite often two dogs can encounter each other in a peaceful way, perhaps with some playful roughhousing thrown in. But sometimes an encounter goes wrong. Whether a dog is reactive to other animals can be unpredictable, even for dogs with well understood personalities. This means there’s a risk in every encounter that it could turn into a real fight, with the potential for serious injuries.

For owners, the question becomes how to address these circumstances in a safe way. The first reaction many people have when they are near two dogs that are fighting is an adrenaline-filled rush of fear and concern. A human’s instinct is probably to rush straight into the fray to stop the encounter. The problem is that the human who attempts to grab at the fighting animals may end up with a serious bite.

Perhaps the first thing to remember about fights between dogs is that they are typically, though not always, about the animals trying to establish a dominance relationship. When two “alpha” dogs meet, they may feel a need to settle who is the more dominant one by a show of force. Most dogs have a sense of self-preservation: they don’t want to be injured and will submit if the fight isn’t going their way. Unfortunately, some dogs don’t just back down, and some have a hidden viciousness that drives them to behave especially aggressively to establish themselves as boss. When a fight has escalated, it can be necessary to intervene.

Here are some good ideas for handling a dog fight:

  • Don’t reach in to grab at the animals or their collars. This can lead to serious bites to hands and wrists.
  • The dogs aren’t paying attention to anything but each other, so yelling and stomping feet isn’t likely to do anything but add further stress to the situation for yourself and others.
  • If the owner of the other dog is present, try the wheelbarrow method, which involves lifting the hind legs of both dogs off the ground and pulling them away from each other. This can also be done with a leash looped under the dog’s belly. The key is to avoid the dog’s head.
  • If your on-leash dog gets into a fight, drop the leash to avoid the leash becoming a source of injuries to the animals.

The best way to handle dog fights is to prevent them from getting started. Recognizing when a dog is reaching badly to another animal is a key skill every dog owner must develop. For some animals it’s better to simply keep them away from other dogs except perhaps in controlled situations.

For over 45t years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients recover damages for dog bite injuries. If you have questions about your legal options after being bitten by a dog in the Las Vegas area, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

A Dog Sitter’s Liability for Bites

Dog sitting is a common job in the gig economy. Whether done through an intermediary service or informally, taking care of an unfamiliar dog involves a degree of risk for the sitter. In addition to making sure that the dog is well cared for and safe, keeping the dog from endangering others is a key part of the sitter’s job. If the dog should bite another dog or a person, the sitter may be held legally responsible for any resulting injuries.

Avoiding negligence as a dog sitter

Nevada law doesn’t treat dog bite injuries any differently than other types of personal injury. Liability comes down to whether the negligence of the person responsible for the dog caused the injury. A key issue in any negligence case is whether the defendant (here, the dog sitter) owed a legal obligation to the plaintiff and failed to meet it, and as a consequence the plaintiff got hurt.

A dog sitter’s legal obligations are not so different from those of the dog’s owner. An obvious example is compliance with leash laws. The sitter must ensure that the dog is properly leashed wherever required. In Las Vegas that means in most places outside the home. Failing to leash a dog can by itself be grounds for establishing negligence. The sitter may also have a duty to protect others from the dog if the dog’s aggressive tendencies are well understood. For example, if the sitter has been warned that the dog is prone to aggression around small children, the sitter probably has an obligation to keep tight control of the dog around kids.

Understanding the limits of contract

Dog sitters who work independently from an agency and who do not organize a separate, limited liability entity (like an LLC or corporation) for their business are legally considered to be sole proprietors. One consequence of that is the sitter is personally liable for any damages he or she may cause. People who work on this basis should carry insurance that will protect them from the financial consequences of a mistake.

Working through an agency can put a sitter into a different category. Although in practical terms the sitter is still a sole proprietor, because the sitter is also an independent contractor of the agency the agency should bear some or all of the legal responsibility for the pet care arrangement. Dog sitters who work through an agency should be sure to understand the scope of the agency’s protections for the sitter. These protections include:

  • Insurance coverage for injuries caused by the dog while under the sitter’s control.
  • Litigation expense coverage.
  • Indemnification against expenses (i.e., the agency bears all the financial risk).
  • Protection against property damages.
  • Protection of the dog itself against injury.

Every such contract will contain important limitations. For example, no agency will defend a pet sitter who purposefully mistreats a client’s dog. For someone who has been injured by a dog in a sitter’s care, the wording of the contract between the sitter and the agency can be an important part of developing a legal case.

Someone who has been bitten by a dog should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases involving dog bites. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Runners and Dog Bite Injuries in Nevada

Runners and Dog Bite Injuries in Nevada

Being attacked by a dog is a runner’s worst nightmare. A dog’s bite can cause painful, debilitating injuries. It can also cause psychological harm, leading to anxiety and stress that can be difficult to overcome. Runners who are bitten by dogs often have the option of suing the person who was responsible.

Potential defendants in a dog attack

Determining who is legally and financially responsible for a dog is an important early step in bite lawsuits. Depending on the circumstances, responsibility can sometimes be placed with more than one person. Here are some common examples:

  • The owner. A dog’s owner is responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent his or her pet from hurting other people and property. Liability often follows the owner even if the owner was not directly in control of the animal when the bite occurred.
  • A dog walker. If someone other than the owner is walking the dog at the time of the attack, that person may be liable for the injury, because a person walking a dog is responsible for keeping the dog under control. Bear in mind that professional dog walking businesses may have insurance available to help pay for injuries to third parties.
  • A property owner or landlord. In some situations a landlord may assume responsibility for a dog on his or her property. For example, in Wright v. Schum, 105 Nev. 611 (1989), a landlord was held responsible for injuries caused by a dog that escaped from an improperly fenced yard. The landlord had assumed legal responsibility for the dog because it had notice of the dog’s aggressive behaviors and had asked the tenant to keep it chained.

The elements of a dog bite claim in Nevada

In Nevada a dog bite is treated like most other kinds of personal injury. In a typical case the injured plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent. To win a dog bite lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to prove four things:

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Negligence claims need to rest upon a defendant’s legal obligation. In the case of dogs, this duty sometimes comes from local ordinances governing leash use. In Nevada dogs may be kept outside at a person’s home without being leashed provided they are kept within a fully enclosed space.
  2. The defendant breached its duty of care. This element simply requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant didn’t do what it was supposed to do. In the case of home-kept dogs, a homeowner who fails to maintain proper fencing might be breaching his or her duty of care. The same might hold true if someone lets an aggressively barking dog out a front door without being leashed.
  3. The defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injury. This element looks at two things. First, that the chain of events from the defendant’s breach of duty to the plaintiff’s injury shows causation. Second, that there weren’t intervening circumstances that might place responsibility elsewhere. For example, if the dog was properly leashed, but the leash harness was defective and broke, perhaps true responsibility lies with the harness manufacturer.
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages. The plaintiff must show that he or she has accumulated medical expenses and other compensable harm from the bite. Damages might include psychological counseling necessary to recover from the fear and anxiety that can follow a dog attack. This element serves to prevent litigation over minor incidents, like a dog rushing someone and barking, but not actually biting.

GGRM understands dog bite litigation

If you are a runner who has been injured by a dog the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez can help you understand your legal options. For over 45 years we have helped dog bite victims in the Las Vegas area recover the compensation they deserve. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Understanding Your Legal Options if You Are Injured By a Service Animal

Understanding Your Legal Options if You Are Injured By a Service Animal

Nevada law grants certain rights to people with service animals

Nevada law defines “service animal” to include dogs and miniature horses that have “been trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” NRS 426.097. The applicable definition under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is similar, though it is limited to dogs. 28 CFR §36.104.

The definition of “disability” is quite broad, including “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the person . . . a record of such an impairment . . . or being regarded as having such an impairment.” 28 CFR §36.105, NRS 426.068. The definition of disability is broad enough to encompass psychological conditions like severe depression or anxiety, provided that they meet the definition’s impact test.

Under both Nevada law and the ADA, people who use service animals have the right to take their animals into “places of public accommodation,” another term with a broad definition. The ADA defines to include hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment venues, libraries, schools, and gyms. See 28 CFR §36.104 for the complete definition.

Owners and operators of covered places are required to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, including allowing them to bring service animals onto the premises. They may ask what jobs the animal performs, but they may not ask a service animal’s handler to identify his or her disability, ask for evidence of disabled status, or demand proof that the animal has been trained. However, an establishment can refuse to allow a dangerous animal on the premises if, for example, the animal is behaving aggressively toward other patrons. Animals that aren’t under adequate control can also be removed.

Note that to qualify as a service animal, and therefore receive the rights associated with that designation, a dog must have received special training to assist a person with specific tasks associated with a disability. This distinguishes service animals from therapy animals. Although therapy animals provide emotional benefits, they don’t satisfy the task requirement. This means that a therapy animal can be lawfully excluded from places of public accommodation, though landlords cannot discriminate against therapy animals any more than they can against service animals, even if they have a policy against pets.

Legal options when a service animal bites

In most ways, a service animal bite injury falls within the same framework as one committed by an ordinary pet. In Nevada, dog bites fall within the general legal theory of negligence. Harry v. Smith, 893 P.2d 372, 375 (Nev. 1995). The injured plaintiff must show that the person responsible for the animal failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the injury, and as a result of that failure the plaintiff was injured.

What may distinguish a service animal bite case from ordinary bite cases is the context where a bite occurs. Because service animals are allowed into places where animals normally aren’t permitted, the scope of potentially negligent defendants can be different. For example, although a restaurant is required to allow patrons to be accompanied by service animals, if it does not exercise its right to have an aggressive animal removed it may contribute to the resulting injury.

Consult with an experienced dog bite attorney

Recovering from an animal bite can be painful, slow, and expensive, especially if it requires taking time off work. Many bite victims need psychological counseling along with their physical treatment. Consulting with an injury lawyer as soon as possible after the incident is essential for preserving legal options. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have extensive experience with animal bite litigation in Las Vegas. For a free consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Dog Bites in Nevada

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Dog Bites in Nevada

Being bitten by a dog is a scary experience that can have long-lasting consequences, in terms of both physical injury emotional distress. In many situations, the victim of a dog bite ends up with significant costs, and has to sue the person responsible for the dog. Because Nevada does not have clearly defined legal parameters around dog bite cases, it can be confusing for bite victims to come to grips with the law.

Dog bites and negligence

Nevada doesn’t have a statute that specifically addresses dog bites. Instead, lawsuits arising from dog bites in Nevada usually fall under the state’s negligence law. Negligence is a common cause of action in a wide range of civil tort lawsuits. A textbook negligence claim argues (1) that the defendant (that is, the person being sued) owed the injured person a reasonable duty of care, (2) that the defendant’s lack of care caused the person’s injury, and (3) that the injury caused the injured person’s claimed damages, such as medical expenses.

Dog bite cases can hinge on the question of what duty of care the defendant owed to the injured person. In many cases, a defendant’s failure to comply with local laws requiring leashes, enclosures, or signage can be used to establish that the defendant had a duty of care (for example, to keep a dog leashed or contained) and didn’t follow through. In Las Vegas, dogs are required to be leashed unless they’re on the owner’s property or in certain designated places.

Even if there isn’t a clearly applicable local ordinance, if a dog owner knows that his dog is aggressive and prone to biting people, there’s a good argument to be made that the owner has a duty to ensure that the dog is properly restrained where it can’t hurt anyone.

Comparative fault and dog bites

If an unrestrained dog comes running out of the blue and without provocation bites someone, the defendant’s negligence may be relatively easy to prove. But quite often, dogs bite people only after being provoked in some way. If the injured person contributed to his or her injury by doing something wrongful, the defendant might argue that the injured person bears some degree of responsibility. This is called comparative fault. In Nevada, the victim of a dog attack may not be able to recover for her injuries at all if the defendant shows that the victim was at least half at fault.

Just like negligence itself, comparative fault depends on the specific facts of the case. The question to ask is: would the victim have been bitten if she hadn’t acted the way she did? Taunting a dog, ignoring warnings like growling and bared teeth, or disregarding a “Beware of Dog” sign could serve as facts supporting an argument for comparative fault.

Dog bite lawsuits must be filed within two years

To avoid losing the right to sue, it’s important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a dog attack. Dog bite victims in Nevada have two years from the attack to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit after this statute of limitations has expired almost always causes the court throw out the case.

GGRM gets dog bite victims their just compensation

Dog bite lawsuits are highly fact-specific, and getting adequately compensated for injuries can often come down to how well a legal case is framed and argued. At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we have helped numerous dog bite victims in Las Vegas recover compensation for their injuries. If you are trying to understand your legal options after a dog bite, our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. For a free consultation reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or contact us through our website.