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When Animals Attack

The Law Firm of Reed & Mansfield, Attorneys  Personal Injury & Property Damage, Las Vegas, NV


Million Dollar Advocates Forum

The big issue in animal bites is how do you collect for the injury. In the case of a dog bite, for example, you might think it is easy to just sue the dog's owner. But most civil judgments are defeated if the person who you have the judgment against files for bankruptcy and sometimes as soon as people get their wages garnished they file for bankruptcy. Naturally, it helps if the dog owner has some wealth rather than living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, there is a trend for apartment managers to demand that tenants buy a tenant's insurance policy which insures the tenant against many liabilities. (For example, if the tenant gets water on a walkway that freezes and someone falls and is hurt, the landlord wants the tenant to have insurance for that.) Unfortunately, some of these tenant policies--which are pretty cheap--have exclusions for dog bites or from bites from certain kinds of dogs such as pit bulls. And unfortunately, landlords generally just want proof of a policy without examining the policy. However, the landlord may be liable for renting to a tenant with a dog that bites. 

Most animal attacks in Nevada involve dogs. If the dog is not identified, rabies is a concern because rabies is an almost always fatal disease that can be carried by unvaccinated dogs. Other than the concern about rabies, dog bites mainly cause tissue damage rather than infection because the broad teeth of the dog make for wounds that are easy to clean.

Unvaccinated cats can also carry rabies. In addition, because cat teeth puncture more than they tear, cat bites mainly cause damage by infections. Cats' sharp, narrow teeth can inject bacteria into tendons and bones. The infectious bacteria Pasteurella multocida is found in 90% of healthy cats. Primary responsible people are cat owners or landlords who regularly do not prevent cats from roaming their common areas.

It may seem illogical for a landlord to be concerned about cats as a source of danger to their tenants, but because even healthy cats carry bacteria that can harm people if injected into them by a bite, stray cats should be a concern to landlords. As with dogs, use care before reaching down to pet a cat. I once handled a case where a woman was attacked by a cat and because her wounds became badly infected she was hospitalized for twelve days.

If you have been injured by a dog or other animal, please contact us right away as we may be able to help you. There are many potential sources of recovery, for example, perhaps the dog owner has homeowner's or renter's insurance, or perhaps the landlord was negligent in renting to a tenant with a vicious animal.

If you are a dog or cat owner we urge you to have insurance coverage, typically through the home you own or rent. If you have multiple residences be aware that your homeowner's or renter's insurance may only cover one location.

We would be happy to meet with you for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION to discuss any potential claim you have.

And, if you are a pet owner, and want to be protected against a lawsuit in case your pet unexpectedly attacks someone, check with your insurance agent to see what coverage you have. You need to discuss specifically with the agent what kind of dog or pet you own and then read the policy to make sure your pet is not excluded.

Bites from black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders and scorpions can be very painful with the bitten area sometimes becoming infected and necrotic, even after appropriate medical care. (Fortunately, most people don't suffer permanent injury after the initial painful sting.)  Unfortunately, these insects live in the Las Vegas area and often invade homes and apartments. If going into your garage or doing yard work watch where you put your hands. Sometimes clothing left on the floor becomes a source of these stings.If you live in a area with a lot scorpions you may need to hire a pest control service. 

Commercial premise owners usually pay an extermination service to put down bug spray periodically. Many homeowners do not, either because they don't want the expense or they think exposure to the insecticides might be harmful. Non chemical defenses against poisonous insects include putting all furniture on blocks the sides of which are covered with glue strips.