Homeowner liability in animal bites

10739684_ml10739684_mlEnduring an animal attack in Las Vegas can be a traumatic experience for people of all ages. While dog bites are the most common form of animal-related personal injury, a wide range of animals have been known to attack people throughout the valley, and those attacks can often lead to devastating injuries and even death. The state’s premises liability laws may offer victims the chance to receive compensation for the attack.

A prevalent problem

Asbury Park Press reports that a woman was recently attacked in Howell, New Jersey, when she was visiting a woman’s home to cut her mother’s hair. The family’s dog, a pit bull, allegedly attacked the woman as she entered the home. The victim sustained injuries to her leg, and when an officer arrived to investigate, the pit bull also attacked the officer. The officer shot the pit bull three times in order to end the attack, and the dog died while en route to the veterinary office.

This is sadly, a common story. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 4.5 million Americans receive a dog bite each year in the U.S. Twenty percent of these instances are severe enough to require medical attention. This includes 2 million children, who are more likely to require medical attention if they are attacked by dogs.

Finding relief through premises liability 

The premises liability laws in Nevada allow for personal injury victims of all kinds to seek compensation for their injuries, including those caused by animal bites. These laws are designed to ensure that visitors and guests on any property are kept safe.  The laws state that homeowners and other property owners must keep their animals on a leash or in a secure enclosure to help prevent these attacks from occurring. Additionally, all owners are required to keep animals that are known to be aggressive away from guests, visitors, and those who are legally on the property.  If an animal has previously been aggressive toward a human being, the consequences for the owner can be severe if the animal attacks.

In order for premises liability laws to effectively apply to an animal bite situation, the following elements must be present:

  • The defendant must own the premises or property where the event took place.
  • The plaintiff must be a visitor or guest on the property.
  • There must be an element of negligence or a wrongful act that occurred. 

The Nevada Supreme Court recently expanded existing premises liability law when it handed down its Decision in Foster v, Costco. The Court determined that even if there is an open and obvious danger on the property, it does not automatically relieve landowners from their duty to exercise reasonable care.