For most dog owners, their furry friend is simply another member of the family. It can be easy to forget that every dog has the potential to bite, no matter how docile or friendly they may seem, or how well you think you know the pet.
Dog attacks can be incredibly damaging and even fatal, particularly when children are involved—and it is quite often that children are involved since many do not understand signs of aggression or distress that adults likely would. However, anyone could become a victim of a dog attack, and the results can be financially disastrous for the owner of the dog.
The State of Nebraska has very strict statutes when it comes to defining liability for dog attacks. Nebraska Revised Statute 54-601 reads:
Dogs are hereby declared to be personal property for all intents and purposes, and…the owner or owners of any dog or dogs shall be liable for any and all damages that may accrue (a) to any person, other than a trespasser, by reason of having been bitten by any such dog or dogs and (b) to any person, firm, or corporation by reason of such dog or dogs killing, wounding, injuring, worrying, or chasing any person or persons or any sheep or other domestic animals belonging to such person, firm, or corporation. Such damage may be recovered in any court having jurisdiction of the amount claimed;
This means that, with a few exceptions, the owner of a dog that attacks another person will always be held liable for the attack. There is a common misconception, however, that even a trespasser who is attacked by your dog on your property could sue for damages, but this is not the case in Nebraska. However, if your dog attacks a guest or invitee on your property, then you as the owner are liable.
Some other exceptions to owner liability include a dog who bites while serving in a military or police capacity, and a dog who is intentionally and unnecessarily provoked through actions like harassment.
A key aspect to owner liability with regard to one’s dog attacking is that the dog need not have demonstrated any propensity for aggression or viciousness in the past. All it takes is one time for your dog to bite and you could be held responsible, resulting in serious civil penalties to cover medical expenses and damages, as well as the euthanization of your dog.
Claims can only be filed against dog owners, though, which means you have little to no recourse if you are bitten by a stray.
A dog attack could be a potentially catastrophic event for you as an owner or as a victim, so it is essential that you take precautions with your own pets, teach your children proper strategies for approaching and handling dogs (such as always asking the owner for permission), and if you are uncertain about a dog’s temperament, then always err on the side of caution.
If you are involved in a dog attack that resulted in injuries to you or a loved one, please contact Inkelaar Law today and let us fight for the justice you deserve.