Although Nevada does not have a statewide dog bite-related law like many other states, Las Vegas itself has a “one bite” city law in place. Under this municipal law, a dog’s owner will not automatically be considered liable for any injuries the animal causes after biting a third party for the first time. If, however, a dog has bitten, or acted aggressively towards someone on at least one prior occasion, it will be labeled as either a vicious or dangerous dog.
Under Las Vegas city law, a dog can be considered dangerous if it has behaved menacingly or bitten someone on a prior occasion, although it failed to cause bodily injury, at least twice within the past 18 months and while off-leash. However, it is possible for a dog to be labeled as dangerous even if it had no previous aggressive behavior if it was used in the commission of a crime, or if it caused a serious injury or the death of another animal that was not at large.
Vicious dogs, on the other hand, are animals that are thought to pose a threat to humans or other animals and:
- Have caused substantial bodily harm to an animal or a human on a prior occasion; or
- Exhibits behavior that caused it to be labeled a dangerous animal.
Those whose animals have been deemed to be dangerous or vicious must comply with certain laws, which vary depending on the specific ordinances in the city. It is not uncommon, however, for city law to require owners of these types of animals to keep their dogs muzzled in public, post warning signs on their property, obtain a microchip for the animal, purchase a higher liability policy, or keep the dog enclosed on their property. Failing to comply with these rules can result in misdemeanor charges and jail time, and could also render the animal’s owner negligent per se under state law.
Whether a person is filing a simple negligence claim following a dog bite, or is relying on a negligence per se theory, the injured party will only be able to recover damages if he or she files the suit within two years of the date of the injury. Injured parties who do not meet this deadline will almost always have their cases dismissed, unless a court finds that extenuating circumstances exist, leaving injured parties to bear the burden of any injury-related losses on their own. This can have devastating physical, financial, and emotional consequences for dog bite victims and their families, making it especially important for those who have been injured by someone else’s animal, to speak with an experienced attorney about their legal options as soon as possible after their accident.