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Dangerous dogs are defined as having behaved menacingly toward people:
Dangerous dogs owners are required to follow all relevant state and municipal laws. Some of these include obtaining a permit from the Animal Regulation Officer, keeping the dog under secure control, neutering, and maintaining a minimum $50,000 liability insurance policy.
Dangerous dog owners who do not follow the required rules may be liable for damages if their dog bites someone again. The owners face criminal charges as well for not following the rules, even if no one gets hurt.
Vicious dogs are defined as having either:
The dog owner may be civilly liable to the victim (or victim’s estate, if the dog caused a fatality). In addition, the dog owner faces criminal charges if he/she continues to keep a vicious dog.
Note that dogs may not be categorized as dangerous or vicious simply because of their breed or if the dog was defending itself or owner/keeper against either:
Even if a dog has not bitten anyone before, dog owners can still be civilly liable to dog bite victims if the owner was negligent. Negligence is failing to follow reasonable precautions given the circumstance. Specifically, negligence has four elements:
An example might be allowing a pit bull to play with a baby while unsupervised. If the pit bull harms the baby, the owner could be liable for the baby’s injuries even if the pit bull never bit anyone before.
Note that if a dog bites someone while the owner is violating animal control laws, then the owner is automatically negligent — this is called negligence per se.
Las Vegas personal injury attorney Michael Becker gives an example:
Henderson law requires that dogs be kept on a leash or otherwise secured while on a public street. So if an off-leash dog on a sidewalk bites someone, the owner may be liable under negligence per se laws even if that was the first time the dog bit someone.
The dog bite victim in the above example would not have to prove to the court that the dog owner breached his/her duty of care — that is presumed because the dog was not on a leash. Instead, the victim would just have to show that the owner’s breach caused the victim’s injuries.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.