Can I Sue Someone for Injuring or Killing My Pet in Nevada?

chihuahua with bandage around head lying on pink blanket

What damages can I get if someone hurts or kills my dog or cat in Nevada?

Under NRS 41.740, people are liable for the following damages if they kill or injure someone else's pet in Nevada:

  1. The cost of veterinary care due to the injury or death of the pet;
  2. Any reduction in the market value of the pet caused by an injury;
  3. The market value of the pet and reasonable burial expenses if the pet was killed; and
  4. Reasonable attorney's fees and costs of bringing an action against the responsible party.

However, the total damages may not exceed $5,000 per pet. This makes it appropriate to sue for these damages in a small claims court, such as Las Vegas Justice Court.

Additionally, Nevada law limits recovery of damages for harming or killing a pet to domesticated dogs and cats normally maintained in or near the household of their owners.

You cannot sue someone under NRS 41.740 if they injure a ferret, a rodent or any other animal besides a dog or cat.

Can I get punitive damages in Nevada if someone kills or injures my pet?

In Nevada, you cannot recover punitive damages or damages for pain and suffering against someone who kills or injures your pet.

Exceptions to Nevada's law on damages for injuries or death of a pet

You are not able to recover for a pet's death or injuries if:

  • The injury or death was caused by an action by a government agency or employee or an animal welfare nonprofit society such as the Nevada SPCA in furtherance of public health or animal welfare;
  • The action is based on the killing of a dog that had been or was killing or causing damage to livestock; or
  • The person harming the animal reasonably believed that:
    • The pet presented a risk to the person's safety or to the safety of another person; and
    • The action was necessary to protect himself or herself or another person.

 Isn't killing or injuring an animal a crime in Nevada?

Someone who kills or injures your pet may also be liable under NRS 574.100, Nevada's animal cruelty law.

NRS 574.100 makes it a crime to torture, neglect, or endanger an animal.

However, the burden of proof for animal cruelty as a crime is "beyond a reasonable doubt."

In a civil case for damages, you only need to prove that the defendant was responsible for your pet's death or injuries by a "preponderance of the evidence." A preponderance of the evidence means that the it was more likely than not that the defendant was legally liable.

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