Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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Animal behavior issues for the Nevada dog bite expert witness

Retaining a Nevada dog bite expert witness may be advantageous for personal injury attorneys if liability in a lawsuit is contested.  A dog bite Nevada dog bite expertexpert can proffer animal behavior opinions on issues such  as provocation, assumption of risk, and foreseeability.   These issues are important in dog bite lawsuits in Nevada because Nevada dog bite law dictates that recovery for the plaintiff is determined partly by the plaintiff’s comparative fault and defendant’s negligence.  Nevada, unlike other neighboring states such as California and Arizona, does not make the owner of a dog strictly liable for dog bite injuries a victim sustains.

The retainment by an attorney of a Nevada dog bite expert could prove beneficial in a dog bite case that has the following the fact pattern:

A three-year-old, male Labrador retriever escapes from the property of the owner and runs into the street of a residential neighborhood. The owner attempts to call out the canine back, but the dog is non-compliant his command. The dog continues to run in an uncontrolled fashion excitedly across lawns and into the street. This behavioral part of the dog continues for about 10 minutes, after which, a neighbor  observing the difficulty the owner was having in attempting capture, takes it upon himself to capture  by wrestling the dog to the ground. However, while doing this, he was bitten by the canine. The dog escapes from his grasp, and shortly thereafter returns to the owner on its own. At this point, the owner leashes the canine, and brings the Labrador retriever back into his home.

Given this fact pattern, questions about liability include:

Did neighbor provoke the canine to bite while attempting capture?
Determining if the actions of a person were provocative is more complex than most attorneys realize, and criteria for determining must include the interplay of several factors, some of which include the dog’s motivational state, the actions of the victim, the immediacy of the attack, and the temperament, and past behavioral history of the dog. Note, that these factors constitute provocation from an animal behavior perspective and are not legal definitions of provocation. More information about provocation in dog bites can be found elsewhere on this website.

Did the neighbor assume the risk of being bitten when attempting capture?
The reasonableness of the victim’s actions relative the circumstances present must be taken into account in determining if the victim assumed the risk of being bitten. For example, one would likely assume greater risk of being bitten by attempting capture of an aggressive- like Rottweiler or an aggressive pit bull type dog, which contrasts with a friendly or excited Labrador retriever or golden retriever.

Did the owner of the dog act irresponsibly by allowing the dog to escape from his property, and then not immediately capturing the dog soon after it escaped?
Most municipalities in this country have leash laws enacted solely for protecting the public from dogs running-at-large. One could also argue, negligence by the owner for not being able to gain control of his dog in a timely manner after the dog escaped from the property. Often, properly executed obedience training allows an owner to control the dog when “emergency” situations arise, such as a dog running at large on public property. Moreover, some courts may view an owner negligence if apparent lack of owner control over the dog happened because the owner did not properly train the dog to comply to certain obedience procedures.

In sum, if the victim did not provoke the dog or assume the risk of being bitten, then according to Nevada dog bite law, negligence based on violation of leash laws may suffice to ensure full recovery for the plaintiff from damages resulting from a dog bite. Attorneys should consider retaining a Nevada dog bite expert if the fact pattern in a lawsuit they are handling resembles the fact pattern presented in the above example. 


Richard Polsky, PhD is available for assignment as a Nevada dog bite expert from personal injury attorneys, both defense and plaintiff.