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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.

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.

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.