Janet Harris v. Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil’s Bad Advice for Dog Bite Injuries

Many celebrities are known animal lovers. So it’s no surprise their deep pockets make them excellent parties to sue in dog bite cases. In 2009, television personality Dr. Phil McGraw’s beloved Korean Jindo dog bit his friend, Janet Harris, at his Beverly Hills home. Harris claimed she did not provoke “Maggie” when it drew blood from her right hand and arm.

Dr. Phil wanted to avoid the bad press and instead advised taking care of Harris’ injuries privately. But the antibiotics Harris received from a friend induced swelling in her arm. When she did seek treatment, doctors gave her a Tetanus shot and diagnosed her with a bacterial infection. Harris claimed her medical costs caused her to lose her Beverly Hills skincare clinic.

She sued Dr. Phil for negligence, seeking compensation for medical treatment, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. Both sides settled privately.

Nevada Dog Bite Law

Nevada dog owners are not strictly liable for bites their dogs may cause. To recover from a dog bite in Nevada, the injured victim must prove either:

  1. The dog had previously bitten someone.
  2. The dog is classified as “dangerous” or “vicious”
  3. The dog owner acted negligently
  4. Negligence per se applies

Proving a dog has previously bitten someone or the dog owner acted negligently are questions of fact that the victim must prove. But what do these other legal terms mean?

What is a “Dangerous” or “Vicious” Dog?

Animal Control classifies whether a dog is “dangerous” or “vicious.” A dog is “dangerous” if it has behaved menacingly towards people twice in 18 months, and without provocation, and when the dog is off-leash.

A dog is “vicious” if it has continued to behave menacingly after classified as “dangerous,” or if the dog has caused substantial bodily harm or death to a person.

What Are Instances of Negligence Per Se?

Dog owners are automatically considered negligent if the owner was in violation of a state or local animal control law. For example, if your city requires the dog to be leashed or contained, and you are bitten by an off-leash dog on the street, the owner violated city requirements and is liable.

If you sustained dog bite injuries in Nevada, the best advice is to immediately get medical treatment. Our team at Sam & Ash, LLP will provide options you have to receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at 1 (800) 304-2000 to talk about your case any time, at no cost to you.