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Recent Dog Bite Case Highlights Liability for Non-Compliance With Dangerous Dog Regulations

A toddler is recovering from surgery at Children’s’ Mercy Hospital after his jaw was crushed and he received nearly sixty puncture wounds when he was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. The dog attacked the boy after the dog, which after having bit another person in 2014 was declared a dangerous animal, was let into the house the child was exploring. His mother was able to fight off the dog and help her son while medical help arrived, but the damage had already been done.

dog bite
The owners of the dog were eventually arrested for obstruction of justice because they were non-cooperative with the investigation regarding the attack. Though the owners were previously found in compliance with N. R. S. 202.500 regarding dangerous animals at their former location, they had refused to notify the proper authorities regarding the recent move to Greenwood. This refusal to notify is in violation of the law.

As we have mentioned, Nevada does not have a specific dog bite statute, although there are options for those who find themselves the victim of an attack. There are specific modes of liability for the owner of a dangerous dog: negligence, negligence per se, and scienter.

Negligence

Negligence constitutes an act that diverts from a personal obligation to use ordinary care. Basically, if a person fails to live up to the expectations of conduct that a prudent person would engage in, that person is deemed negligent. Nevada permits a dog bite victim to recover compensation on the ground of negligence based on the Nevada case Harry v. Smith, in which the owner of a dog who knew their dog had the propensity to bite, yet failed to ensure their dog was not able to do so by kenneling or otherwise restricting the dog’s access to others.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se comes from the violation of another statute which automatically makes a person liable for any damage that occurs as a result of the violation of that statute. In this case, the violation of N. R. S. 202.500 and the failure to notify the new community of the dangerous animal makes the owner liable for any damage caused by their failure to comply with the law.

Scienter (i.e., Liability Under the One Bite Rule)

Also applicable to this case is the legal concept of “scienter” (Latin for “knowingly”). Scienter is also known as “common law strict liability,” or, in the case of dog bites, “the one bite rule.” For it to apply the owner or handler of a dog must know that the dog previously bit a person. In this case, having known of the previous bite, this incident makes the owner liable under the doctrine of scienter.

Dogs, although man’s best friend, can also be vicious and their bites can lead to all manner of diseases and complications. Compliance with regulations regarding the care and responsibilities of owners of dogs known to have the propensity to bite is crucial to protect the public from those dogs that may be dangerous. In this case, because of the lack of care of the owner, a child was severely injured and the dog was euthanized, a no-win situation for anyone.

If you or someone you know was the victim of a dog attack, please call Naqvi Law at (702) 553-1000 to discuss your case and how we can help. We serve clients in Las Vegas.