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.