It can be important to seek financial recovery for a dog bite injury in Omaha, Nebraska. Recovering financial compensation could enable you and your family to pay for outstanding medical bills, repair damaged property and move forward. Holding someone accountable could also bring justice and peace of mind. If the dog that attacked you was a stray with no known owner, it could be more difficult to obtain compensation.
What Are Nebraska’s Dog Bite Laws?
In a typical dog bite case, in which the victim knows the identity of the owner, the owner will be liable for damages. Nebraska Revised Statute Section 54-601 states that the owner of any dog that causes injuries or damages shall be liable for the losses accrued. A victim will have the right to hold the pet owner legally responsible for paying for related damages. A few exceptions to the strict liability dog bite law exist with trespassers, people who provoke dog attacks and dogs working in the official line of duty for law enforcement.
A dog is technically the owner’s property. Therefore, the pet owner’s homeowners insurance should cover the damages connected to a dog attack. If found liable for your injuries, the pet owner’s insurer should pay for your medical bills, property repairs, lost wages and other damages. It is generally easy to receive compensation for a dog bite injury when you know the defendant and he or she has insurance, as you do not have to prove the owner’s negligence to qualify for compensation. If the dog was a stray, on the other hand, recovery can be tricky.
Who Is Liable for the Actions of a Stray Dog?
If the vicious dog in your neighborhood has no known owner or origins, you may still be able to recover compensation based on the circumstances of the attack. If you were on public property, for example, the City of Omaha might have liability over the incident. This could be the case, for instance, if the attack was due to the city’s neglect to maintain a safe premises. If someone had previously reported the dangerous stray to the city’s animal control office, for example, yet no one tried to catch the animal, the government could be liable for an attack.
Another possibility is holding a private landowner accountable. If the owner of a piece of property knew or reasonably should have known about the stray dog on the premises and its vicious propensities, yet did nothing to resolve the issue or warn visitors, the owner could be liable on the basis of negligence. An allegation of negligence during a premises liability claim requires the victim to show proof of a duty of care owed, a duty of care breached (negligence) and causation for the injuries in question.
Hire an Omaha dog bite injury lawyer to help you investigate a stray dog attack in Omaha. An investigation of the stray dog’s origins could identify a defendant for your personal injury case. A lawyer could discover someone in the community had been harboring the stray dog for the last several weeks, for example, which could make that person liable for your damages. An investigation could also discover that the stray is not a stray at all; that someone technically owns the dog and allowed it to run at large. This would make the pet owner liable.
It is often up to a court to decide whether someone’s interactions with a stray dog count as harboring the animal. Simply feeding the stray one or two times, for example, may not make an individual liable for a dog attack. Harboring a dog inside the person’s home, however, could make a judge rule the individual liable. Since judges often decide stray dog claims on a case by case basis, use an attorney to increase your chances of a successful suit. A dog bite lawyer can help you navigate Nebraska’s related laws for the best possible case results.
Posted in Dog attack on May 18, 2020
A dog attack can be one of the most gruesome and traumatic incidents for victims and bystanders. The nature of a dog attack can be highly psychologically scarring. It can also leave behind physical scarring and disfigurement. Even a minor dog bite could become infected and cause health complications. The Nebraska courts recognize a dog bite victim’s right to file a claim for compensation for the long-term effects of an injury.
Complications and Infections
It is critical to treat a dog bite injury immediately after it happens. Waiting can increase the risks of the bite festering and becoming infected. Bacterial infections are common with dog bite injuries due to bacteria living in the dog’s mouth. The victim needs to go to a doctor, urgent care center or hospital for prompt treatment. Dog bite treatment may include wound debridement to rid it of dirt and debris, flushing out the wound, administering antibacterial ointments and antibiotics to prevent infection, and bandaging the wound to encourage proper healing. A dog bite victim might have an infection if he or she notices certain symptoms.
- Redness, especially in streaks
- Swelling around the wound
- Drainage, such as pus
- Pain lasting longer than 24 hours
- Trouble moving the injured part of the body
- Warmth coming from the wound
- Fever and night sweats
Any possible symptoms of infection require medical attention. Before leaving the scene of the attack, a victim should ask the pet’s owner if the dog is up to date on its shots. Without proper vaccinations, serious complications could arise from a dog bite injury, including rabies and tetanus. These are potentially deadly diseases in humans. Even if the dog does not transfer any bacteria, the victim could experience other long-term health consequences from a deep bite. These can include broken or splintered bones, nerve damage, and muscle damage. Going to a hospital can help prevent these types of long-term complications with adequate treatments.
Scarring and Disfigurement
Sadly, many dog attacks inflict wounds that permanently scar, disfigure or maim the victim. A serious dog attack can cause injuries such as lacerations, puncture wounds and avulsions, or the tearing away of skin. Some victims, especially children, suffer these injuries in visible and vulnerable places such as the face. Victims may require stitches, skin grafts, plastic surgery or surgeries to try to minimize the amount of scarring and disfigurement from the dog attack. The scars a victim has, however, can be permanent.
The long-term effects of a dog bite are not only physical. A dog attack survivor can also experience many lasting psychological effects. A common psychological outcome of a dog bite is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can come with symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive flashbacks, severe anxiety, fear, stress, depression and trouble sleeping. PTSD from a dog attack can affect both the victim and any bystanders who witnessed the incident – especially those who had personal relationships with the victim.
Another common psychological effect that could last long after the attack – in some cases, for the victim’s life – is a phobia of dogs. This is especially common in young children who survive traumatic dog attacks. Phobias can hinder a child’s enjoyment of life, leading to issues such as anxiety, nightmares, regression, mood swings, outbursts and emotional distress. The survivor of a dog attack might have a permanent phobia of dogs.
Recovering From a Dog Bite Injury
The survivor of a dog attack may be eligible for financial compensation for all the physical and nonphysical long-term effects of the dog bite injury. A dog bite injury lawyer in Omaha can help a victim with the legal processes involved in obtaining fair compensation. While a victim heals and receives treatment for physical and psychological damages, a lawyer can work hard to secure a full financial recovery. An award can pay for past and future dog bite complications.
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.