Dogs are beloved pets around the country, but they are also behind thousands of serious injuries and deaths every year. When a dog attacks, injuries can be catastrophic for the victim. Even a bite from a small dog can lead to pain, suffering, infection, medical bills and permanent scars. Learn when to report a dog bite in Nebraska – as well as whether the law requires reporting – and your rights as a victim with help from an Omaha dog bite lawyer.
Document the Attack
Before you leave the scene where the dog attack occurred to get medical attention, collect important information. This includes the pet owner’s full name and contact information, photos of the dog and your injuries, the names of eyewitnesses, and a description of what happened while it is still fresh in your memory. Documenting the dog attack from the beginning can help you build an injury claim later.
Get Medical Care
Always go to a hospital or urgent care center after a dog bite injury that breaks the skin or seriously injures you. Dog bite injuries have a high risk of developing infections from bacteria in the dog’s mouth and saliva. Professional medical care can help you prevent infections and facilitate healing. You may need stitches, sterilization, wound debridement, bandages or rabies shots to ensure your physical safety. Keep track of all your medical records and care. Request copies of your prescriptions, treatment plans, bills and prognosis reports. If you choose to file a dog bite claim later, medical documentation can provide important evidence.
Report the Dog Bite
All bites are serious enough to report them. Tell the pet owner the dog bit you if he or she did not witness the attack. A dog that has bitten someone once may continue to do so until the owner corrects the misbehavior. The pet owner needs to know about the incident to improve the odds of preventing a similar attack. Notifying the owner could also help a victim of the same dog in the future, as it is necessary to prove the owner knew or should have known about a dog’s aggressive behavior and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent another attack to obtain compensation.
You may also want to report the dog bite injury to your local humane society or animal control center. Although no law in Nebraska makes it mandatory to report an attack, doing so could protect you and your community. The Nebraska Humane Society may need to quarantine the dog to make sure it does not have rabies or another infectious disease. Contacting animal control creates an official report of the incident. This can prove the attack happened and that you have injuries. Your incident report could provide key evidence against the pet owner during an injury claim.
It is also important to report an attack in case the pet requires a Dangerous Dog (DD) or Potentially Dangerous Dog (PDD) designation. These are classifications animal control may place on a dog that has shown unprovoked aggression or violence. PDD is a two-year probation period in which the pet owner must fulfill special requirements such as micro-chipping, spaying/neutering and training the dog. DD designations require a court appearance by the owner. A dog might be dangerous if it inflicted severe dog bite injuries that caused hospitalization or disfigurement. A DD designation lasts the rest of the dog’s life, along with requirements such as confining the dog to a covered kennel when outside and obtaining personal liability insurance.
File a Claim
After notifying the pet owner, animal control, the humane society and the police (in serious cases) of your dog bite injury, contact an attorney for advice on bringing a civil claim for damages. Filing an injury suit against the negligent pet owner could result in compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. A lawyer could help you hold an owner accountable for a serious injury a dog causes in Nebraska.
A property owner’s duties of care in Nebraska change according to the type of visitor. An invitee receives the highest standards of care, while a licensee receives slightly less. A trespasser, on the other hand, does not lawfully have the right to expect any duties of care from a landowner. If you own property in Nebraska where a trespasser suffered an injury, in most cases, the trespasser cannot hold you liable for damages. Important exceptions to the rule exist, however. To learn more about how to deal with an injured trespasser, contact our premises liability attorney in Omaha.
You Intentionally Injured the Trespasser
If you were unaware the trespasser was on your land without permission, the only duty of care you owe him or her is not to act in a willful, reckless or wanton manner to injure the trespasser. You do not have a duty to maintain a safe premises, but you do have a duty not to cause an intentional injury to a trespasser that does not appear to pose a threat. Acting in self-defense is a plausible justification for causing a trespasser an injury, and you likely would not be liable for damages in this situation.
Your duties of care change, however, when you become aware of the trespasser on your property. You must treat a discovered trespasser with ordinary care. This includes protecting the trespasser from a foreseeable hazard, such as a hole on your property or an aggressive dog. If you fail to warn the trespasser about the hazard and he or she suffers an injury as a result, you could potentially be liable for his or her damages, even if the trespasser did not have your permission to be on the property.
The Trespasser Is Under 18
Your duties of care are also different toward trespassers who are under the age of 18. Child trespassers deserve the same degree of care as invitees on your property in the eyes of the law. Your duties will include maintaining a safe premises, checking for hidden hazards, repairing known defects and warning of foreseeable risks. You must, therefore, take steps to reasonably prevent injuries to children who may trespass on your property – namely by putting barriers around attractive nuisances.
An attractive nuisance is a dangerous property element that is inherently attractive to children, such as a swimming pool, trampoline, old well, antique car, heavy machinery or farm animals. By putting an attractive nuisance on your property, you take on added responsibilities to keep trespassing children safe from potential related dangers. The law will expect you to take reasonable steps toward preventing foreseeable injuries, such as placing a fence around a swimming pool. If you fail to do so, you will most likely end up liable for a child’s injuries, even if that child was trespassing.
You Failed to Control Your Dangerous Dog
Cases involving known dangerous dogs are also unique. A dangerous dog according to Nebraska Revised Statute 54-617 is one with a record by an animal control authority stating that it has killed a person, inflicted a serious injury (one requiring medical treatment) on a person, killed a domestic animal or has previously achieved dangerous dog status by another animal control authority. Owners of dangerous dogs have greater duties of care to protect the public than typical pet owners. This includes keeping the dog on a leash in public places and not moving the dog out of the county.
If the trespasser on your property suffered a serious injury in a dog attack, and animal control has previously designated your dog as dangerous, you could be liable for the damages. You may have to pay for the trespasser’s medical bills and other losses if an investigation finds that you were negligent in the control of the dangerous dog under the state’s related laws. In most cases, you will be liable for any damages your pet causes if you knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities but failed to take proper precautionary measures.
Premises liability claims involving injured trespassers are complex. If you need help refuting liability for a trespasser’s injuries on your property, speak to an attorney in Omaha.
After dog attacks, life may never be the same. You may suffer an injury that leaves permanent scars or disfigurement. You might also have to cope with emotional or psychological issues after the attack, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Understanding Nebraska’s dog bite laws could help you feel more in control of your life and future. The law may entitle you to compensation you could use to move on after significant injuries. Contact an Omaha dog bite attorney today.
Nebraska Has Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws
Most states abide by either strict liability or one-bite dog laws. Nebraska is a strict liability state. Nebraska Revised Statute 54-601 states a dog owner will be liable for any injuries or damages his or her dog causes, regardless of negligence. An exception is if the injured person was unlawfully on the pet owner’s property at the time of the attack. Another exception is if the dog was performing its duties as a police or military animal.
Nebraska’s dog bite statute also covers other dog activities, such as tearing up property or jumping on someone. Any injuries or damages a dog causes to someone lawfully on a property will become the pet owner’s legal responsibility. Since Nebraska is a strict liability state, you do not have to prove the owner was negligent to recover damages. Showing the dog caused your injuries and that you were not trespassing will generally be enough to hold the owner liable.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
You may need to file a claim against the dog owner if the attack caused serious injuries. A serious injury can mean a temporary or permanent disability, severe pain, and suffering, mental anguish, expensive medical costs, or other specific losses. A minor bite injury with no complications might not be worth pursuing a lawsuit. A debilitating dog bite, however, could be grounds for a lawsuit.
- Catastrophic injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Torn or missing skin
- Injuries to the neck, face or head
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Eye injuries
- Severe blood loss
- Serious infections
- Wrongful death
Some dog attacks require surgeries, skin grafts, reconstructive procedures, rabies shots, staples, stitches, and other significant treatments. If you or a loved one has a catastrophic injury because of a dog attack, bring a claim in pursuit of financial recovery. Nebraska’s dog bite laws could make you eligible for significant compensation.
What To Do After a Dog Attack
Prevent dog attacks in Omaha by never approaching a strange dog. Ask the owner’s permission before approaching or petting the animal. If a stray or unleashed dog approaches you, stay very still. Do not run from the dog, make loud noises or instigate an attack. Never disturb a dog that is eating or with puppies. If a dog attacks, protect your head and neck by tucking them in toward your chest and rolling into a ball. Cover your ears with your hands.
If a dog attack injures you, seek medical care right away. Go to a hospital in Omaha and explain what happened. You may need special treatments to prevent infections or the spread of diseases such as rabies, especially if the dog was not up-to-date on its vaccines. Document your attack, writing down information such as the name of the owner and where the attack occurred. Once you have received medical treatment, contact the pet owner’s insurance company to file a claim. His or her homeowner’s insurance should cover dog attacks.
If the owner does not have insurance, file an injury claim against him or her with the local civil courts. The pet owner may have to pay out of pocket for your medical bills, property repairs and other expenses. Hire a dog bite attorney to help you bring your claim. You have four years from the date of the dog bite to file a personal injury lawsuit in Nebraska. Work with a dog bite lawyer to help maximize your odds of a payout.