Dog bites that require medical treatment happen surprisingly often. In fact, dog bites are one of the leading reasons children visit emergency rooms. Whether the injured person is a child or an adult, an animal attack could lead to costly medical expenses, scarring, lost time at work, pain, and significant psychological impacts.
An owner can be held legally responsible when their dog causes an injury, but proving liability can be complicated. You need an experienced injury attorney on your side to help with the process. Our Reno dog bite lawyers from Shook & Stone have a thorough knowledge of the law and the skills to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your situation.
Establishing a Dog Owner’s Negligence
Unlike many states, Nevada has no law describing an owner’s liability for a dog bite. Instead, dog owners are liable under common law standards for injuries their dogs inflict on others, and someone who is bitten by a dog can pursue compensation under the grounds of negligence. Negligence means failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent a foreseeable injury to someone else. If an owner knows their dog could harm someone, they have an obligation to ensure that it does not attack.
Nevada Revised Statutes § 202.500 defines dangerous and vicious dogs. A dangerous dog is one that has menaced someone twice within the past 18 months. A vicious dog is one that caused injury or death to a person or a dangerous dog that menaces someone for a third time.
Even if a dog has no history of bad behavior, it could be possible to hold an owner liable if they did not obey local laws and ordinances. Washoe County Ordinance § 55.100 requires all dogs to be leashed when off their property in a congested area. Reno is a designated congested area under the law. If a dog is off-leash and harms someone, the owner might be liable because breaking the law is negligence per se, meaning our Reno attorneys only need to prove the violation of law to establish the owner’s negligence.
Steps To Take After a Dog Causes an Injury
Animal attacks can be frightening, and it is always upsetting when a dog causes an injury, even when it was not intentional. Maintaining calm and taking some basic steps immediately after the incident ensures our team could make a strong case for damages.
Identify the Animal
If the dog is unfamiliar and the owner is not present or does not remain on the scene, try to find out where the dog lives. Witnesses might have information. If possible, take pictures of the dog and report the incident to the County Animal Control Officer. Calling the police is also advisable, especially if the owner is uncooperative.
Seek Medical Treatment
Getting a medical evaluation immediately after the incident is critical for several reasons. Most importantly, a doctor can assess the injury, order X-rays and other necessary tests, and take steps to prevent infection and minimize scarring. In addition, the medical record of the visit is important evidence in a claim for damages. The evidence is most valuable when the record was generated soon after the incident.
Contact an Attorney
It is important to get legal help for a dog bite claim. Because no statute makes a dog owner automatically liable, a legal professional must investigate the incident to determine whether grounds exist to support a claim for damages.
Working through a trusted Reno attorney from Shook & Stone is especially important when the dog belongs to a friend, neighbor, or family member. Emotions can run high in these circumstances and complicate matters. Even if the dog did not intend harm, the injured person still deserves compensation for their injuries. It is better for everyone to allow the insurance company and the legal representative to manage claims when the owner and victim are acquainted.
Pursue a Dog-Related Injury Claim With Our Reno Attorneys
When a dog injures you or your child, the owner could be legally responsible for providing you with compensation for your losses, even if the injury was unintentional. Proving liability can be complicated, however.
Contact a Reno dog bite attorney as soon as possible after the injury. We could guide you through the process and help you prove your claim. Call Shook & Stone today for a free consultation.