Dog bites can be serious incidents. A dog’s jaw comes down with a lot of force and a lot of teeth, and canine bites can commonly result in infections. In Nevada, dog bites can have drastic consequences for the victim, the dog, and potentially the owner of the dog too.
When dogs bite people, it’s not uncommon for the victim to seek compensation for their injury from the owner of the dog if their keeping of or handling the dog was reckless or negligent. It’s also possible for the State of Nevada to file criminal charges against a particularly reckless dog owner. The dogs themselves can also sometimes face consequences if they’re showing signs of aggression towards humans like biting without provocation.
What Can Dog Owners Be Charged with When Their Dog Dites Someone?
Nevada isn’t like most other states in that there’s no state-wide law governing dog bites specifically. Certain counties and cities within Nevada have chosen to enact their own measures, but there remains little uniform treatment of dog bites under state code for many cases. When a dog bites, however, there are other statutes that the owner usually falls in violation of.
NRS §202.500 is Nevada’s law governing “dangerous or vicious dogs.” It forbids keeping or giving away a vicious dog. It defines vicious as “Without provocation, on two separate occasions within 18 months, it behaves menacingly, to a degree that would lead a reasonable person to defend himself or herself against substantial bodily harm…” when the dog is not confined or under control of its owner.
Owners whose dog bites a person will often be asked to surrender the dog to animal control if the dog is deemed vicious, and if they refuse they could be charged in misdemeanor violation of NRS §202.500, which could amount to a $1000 fine and/or six months in jail. If a bite was serious and/or was the result of a dog previously deemed vicious by law enforcement, then the owner could potentially be charged with a felony which carries a maximum sentence of up to $5000 and 1-4 years in state prison.
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Nevada’s “One Bite Rule”
Like many states around the country, Nevada courts typically do favor the “one bite rule” for dog bites. In these cases, an otherwise well-behaved dog biting someone one time would typically not be a reason to hold the dog or dog owner liable for a criminal violation. As noted above in the text of the law on dangerous and vicious dogs, 18 months is seen as the “repeat offense” period for dogs.
This isn’t to be considered a rule carved into stone, however, since Nevada has little well-defined law regarding dog bites. Often individual judges can exercise a lot of discretion depending on the specific circumstances of a case. Usually, the law against vicious and dangerous dogs is the standard used, but there are other factors that could come into play, such as public nuisance.
What Are the Dangers of a Dog Bite?
Obviously, dog bites do a lot of damage. If you’ve been bit by a dog you know that it’s not like being cut– dogs clamp, scrape, and tear. Dog bites can potentially do serious damage to tissue and bones that you may deal with for years to come. With wounds as large as dog bites commonly are, healing can potentially take a long time as well.
Dog bites are also common sources of infections and diseases. Dogs have different chemical reactions in their bodies than we do, and what’s healthy to them may not exactly be healthy to us. A dog’s powerful enzymes in its mouth can fight off all sorts of diseases and bacteria that it has no idea it carries, but once it gets beneath your skin it’s not fought off so easily.
Clark County requires regular vaccinations for common diseases like rabies for all animals around the Las Vegas area, but those aren’t the only infections that can be carried by a dog bite. The vaccination rates for animals in our communities are high as well, but there are still plenty of unvaccinated dogs around just in strays, let alone people who haven’t complied with the law. Diseases like rabies can be incredibly serious and potentially lead to medical complications for years.
What Compensation Can You Get from a Dog Bite Claim?
As with any personal injury case, if you are seeking compensation for a dog bite you received, you should seek damages to remedy any hardship you suffered as a direct result of the attack. This can include medical bills, lost wages, or any other cost that you paid that you otherwise would not have without the attack. You also should research what kind of costs the incident will have in the future, whether they be decreased quality of life or continued medical expenses.
Regardless of whether The State of Nevada is charging the owner of the dog with a criminal offense, you can still seek compensation through a personal injury claim. Civil and criminal court work entirely differently, and there are many reasons why a prosecutor may choose to not seek criminal charges. For you, you should strongly consider making a claim if you have suffered pain and financial hardship as a result of someone else’s dog.
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Seek Compensation for Your Dog Bite Claim With an Attorney’s Help
If a dog attacked you unprovoked, you had no reasonable responsibility to think that its owner would allow a potentially dangerous animal near you. You shouldn’t be forced to shoulder financial burdens due to the dog owner’s negligence, and we here at Pacific West Injury Law want to help you fight to get what you deserve.
Our expert attorneys are specialists in dog bite cases here in the Las Vegas area. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation on your case today.