Dog bites in Nebraska are not uncommon and can lead to serious injuries. Victims of these incidents have the right to seek legal recourse, which may include filing a lawsuit or an insurance claim for compensation. A dog bite lawyer can assist in dealing with the legal process, ensuring victims receive the maximum compensation and justice they deserve. Below, Liberty Law Group provides a useful overview of dog bite cases, including the legal options available to victims and the important role of a dog bite lawyer in these cases.

Omaha Dog Bite Lawyer

At Liberty Law Group, our team of experienced personal injury lawyers represents dog bite victims in pursuit of maximum compensation to ensure justice for the damages suffered. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha in Douglas County, Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, and the surrounding Nebraska counties of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Cass. Our firm also represents Iowans in Council Bluffs, Pattawattamie County, and surrounding areas of West Iowa. We offer free consultations for injury cases from a dog bite or animal attack. If you, your child, or another loved one was bitten by a dog and sustained an injury that caused damages, contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to find out how our firm might be able to help bring a case and work with you throughout every step of the process.

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Reasons for Dog Bites

  • Fearful or Defensive Biting – Fearful or defensive biting happens when a dog feels threatened or scared. This type of biting is a defensive mechanism and can occur when a dog is startled, feels cornered, or perceives a threat to itself or its owner. Dogs that bite out of fear or defense may show signs of anxiety, such as cowering, tucking their tail, or growling. It’s important to approach unfamiliar dogs cautiously and to recognize and respect their space to avoid provoking a fearful or defensive bite.
  • Possessive Biting – Possessive biting is linked to a dog’s instinct to guard resources. This type of biting occurs when a dog is protecting something it values, such as food, toys, or even a favored spot in the house. Dogs may display possessive behavior by growling, snarling, or snapping when someone approaches their valued item. Training and socialization can help mitigate possessive tendencies in dogs, teaching them to trust their owners and understand that their resources are not under threat.
  • Pain-Induced Biting – Pain-induced biting happens when a dog is in discomfort or pain. Even the gentlest dogs might bite if they are hurt or ill, as pain can cause them to act unpredictably. When handling a dog that might be injured or unwell, it’s essential to be gentle and cautious, as they may react defensively to being touched or moved.
  • Predatory Biting – Predatory biting stems from a dog’s natural hunting instincts. This type of biting is less common in domestic settings but can occur, particularly with certain breeds. Predatory behavior might be triggered by fast-moving objects, such as running animals or even joggers and cyclists. Dogs exhibiting predatory behavior will often chase and grab their target. It’s important for owners to understand and manage their dog’s behavior, using training and controlled environments to prevent harmful situations.

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Types of Injuries Sustained from Dog Bites

Dog bite injuries can vary in severity and type, depending on factors like the size and breed of the dog, the intensity of the bite, and the area of the body that was bitten. Here are some common types of injuries sustained from dog bites:

  • Puncture Wounds: These are deep, narrow wounds caused by the dog’s teeth piercing the skin. They can be serious because they create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of infection.
  • Lacerations: These are deep cuts or tears in the skin, often irregular in shape. They can be quite painful and may require stitches to heal properly.
  • Bruising and Abrasions: These surface-level injuries happen when the skin is scraped or crushed, often resulting from a dog knocking someone over or scratching them.
  • Crush Injuries: These occur when the dog’s bite exerts significant pressure. Bones, muscles, and soft tissues can be crushed, sometimes leading to fractures, especially in the hands or arms.
  • Infections: Dog bites bring about bacteria, which can cause infections like cellulitis. Symptoms might include redness, swelling, warmth, and pain at the bite site, sometimes accompanied by fever.
  • Emotional Trauma: Dog bite victims can also suffer from mental trauma, such as anxiety, fear of dogs, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Immediate medical attention is often necessary for dog bite injuries to clean and assess the wound, reduce the risk of infection, and address any serious physical or psychological impacts.

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Where Dog Bites Happen in Nebraska

  • Urban and Residential Areas – In cities like Omaha, Lincoln, and Council Bluffs, the higher population density means more households with dogs. This increased proximity of dogs and people can lead to more opportunities for interactions, both positive and negative. Residential areas, where dogs are often kept as pets, can see incidents of dog bites, especially if dogs are not properly secured or if they are startled or feel their territory is being invaded.
  • Parks and Recreational Areas – These public spaces, such as Wilderness Park in Lincoln or Zorinsky Lake Park in Omaha, are popular for dog walking and outdoor activities. While these areas offer great opportunities for dogs to exercise and socialize, they can also present situations where dogs might feel threatened or overexcited, leading to bites.
  • Rural and Agricultural Areas – Dogs in rural settings may have more freedom to roam and may be used for working purposes, like herding livestock. These dogs can be protective of their territory or herd, leading to potential biting incidents, especially if they encounter unfamiliar people or animals.
  • Schools and Playgrounds – Children are often at a higher risk for dog bites due to their small size and tendency to playfully interact with dogs, sometimes in ways that dogs might misinterpret as threatening. Dog owners are required to monitor their pets closely, especially in areas where children are present.

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Aggressive Dog Breeds

In Nebraska, certain dog breeds are often considered more aggressive. These include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Pitbull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Presa Canarios, Dogo Argentinos, and Cane Corsos. Additionally, breeds like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies, and various Terriers are noted for aggressive tendencies. It’s important to recognize that a dog’s behavior largely depends on its upbringing, training, and the owner’s handling. Nebraska places restrictions on certain breeds due to aggression risks. For example, in Omaha, owners of certain breeds have to place their dogs on leashes or harnesses when they are in public. In other cities, pit bulls and rottweilers are banned.

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Understanding Dog Owner Liability in Nebraska

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §54-601, the owner of a dog is usually the one who has to answer for any harm their pet causes. This law treats dogs as if they are objects that belong to someone, like a car or a bicycle. Because of this, if a dog hurts a person who wasn’t doing anything wrong (like trespassing), or if the dog attacks someone else’s pet or livestock, the owner of the dog is the one who has to pay for any damage or injuries. This strict liability law means that the owner is liable regardless of whether they knew of the dog’s past behavior or aggression.

When Dog Owners are Not Liable

The law says that people who use dogs for official purposes, like police officers or military personnel, aren’t always responsible if their dog bites someone while on duty. For example, if a police dog bites a suspect during an arrest or while investigating a crime, the police officer or the government they work for might not have to pay for any injuries caused. This exception only applies if the officers were following their department’s rules about how to use dogs safely and responsibly. It’s important to know that this exception doesn’t give police or military dogs a free pass to bite anyone. The law specifically mentions that this exemption applies only in situations like chasing a suspect the officer thinks is involved in criminal activity, looking into a crime, carrying out a warrant, or protecting a police officer or someone else.

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The Process of Legal Recourse in Dog Bite Cases

When an individual suffers a dog bite, they are faced with the decision of how to seek compensation for their injuries. This pursuit of compensation typically takes the form of either an insurance claim or a legal lawsuit. Each path involves distinct steps and considerations.

Pursuing an Insurance Claim

  • Investigating Insurance Coverage: The first step involves determining whether the dog owner possesses homeowner’s insurance or pet insurance that covers incidents of dog bites. The injured party must obtain this information from the dog owner.
  • Filing the Claim: The injured individual then needs to file a claim with the dog owner’s insurance company. This process requires providing detailed information about the incident, including the circumstances of the bite, the extent of the injuries, and any medical treatments received.
  • Handling the Insurance Company’s Response: Upon reviewing the claim, the insurance company may request additional information, such as further medical documentation or evidence of the incident.
  • Negotiating a Settlement: The insurance company may offer a settlement to cover the costs incurred by the injured party. This settlement is subject to negotiation, and the injured party may counter the offer if it is deemed insufficient to cover all expenses and damages.

Initiating a Legal Lawsuit

  • Consultation with Legal Counsel: Individuals considering a lawsuit should first consult with a legal professional specializing in personal injury or dog bite cases. The lawyer can provide guidance on the viability of the case and the legal procedures involved.
  • Filing a Legal Complaint: With the assistance of their lawyer, the injured party files a complaint in court. This document outlines the details of the dog bite incident and the damages being sought.
  • Engaging in the Discovery Process: The period following the filing involves both parties gathering evidence. This may include obtaining witness statements, additional medical records, and other pertinent information.
  • Proceeding to Trial: If a settlement is not reached outside of court, the case proceeds to trial. Here, a judge or jury will examine the evidence and make a decision regarding the case.
  • Receiving Judgement: If the court rules in favor of the injured party, the judge will order the dog owner to pay compensation. This compensation is intended to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related damages.

Key Legal Considerations

  • Statute of Limitations: It’s important to note the time constraints for filing a lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. In Nebraska, the injured party typically has four years from the date of the incident to initiate legal action.
  • Potential for Settlement: Many dog bite cases are resolved through out-of-court settlements. These settlements are often preferred for their efficiency and reduced stress compared to a trial, but it’s important to ensure that any settlement includes fair compensation for the full extent of the damages.

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Types of Damages in Dog Bite Cases

When someone is injured by a dog bite, they can seek compensation for various types of damages. These damages are meant to cover the costs and impacts of the injury. Here’s a breakdown of the common types of damages that can be recovered in dog bite cases:

  • Medical Expenses – In dog injury cases, medical expenses are often the most immediate concern after a dog bite. This includes the cost of treatment for the injury, such as emergency room visits, doctor’s appointments, medication, and any necessary surgeries. If the bite is severe, it may require ongoing treatment, physical therapy, or even reconstructive surgery, which can also be included in these costs.
  • Lost Wages – Lost wages are another significant type of damage. If the injury from the dog bite is severe enough to keep someone from working, they can seek compensation for the income they lost during their recovery. This also applies if the injury leads to a long-term or permanent inability to work or if it necessitates a change in employment due to physical limitations caused by the bite.
  • Pain and Suffering – In Nebraska, pain and suffering covers the physical and emotional distress caused by the dog bite. This is a bit harder to quantify than medical bills or lost wages, but it’s just as important. Dog bite injuries can be traumatic, leading to physical pain, psychological trauma, fear of dogs, and other emotional issues. Compensation for pain and suffering covers these impacts of the bite.
  • Property Damage – If the dog bite incident involved property damage, such as torn clothing or broken personal items during the attack, the victim can also seek compensation for these losses. Though less common than other types of damages, they are still a valid concern in some dog bite cases.
  • Punitive Damages – In rare cases, punitive damages might be awarded. These are not about compensating the victim for their losses but are instead meant to punish the dog owner for intentional or reckless behavior. Punitive damages typically only come into play if the dog owner was knowingly violating laws or intentionally encouraging the dog to be aggressive.

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Common Questions Regarding Dog Bite Lawsuits

What actions are recommended after a dog bite occurs?
Seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite, even for seemingly minor injuries. Documenting the incident is important; this includes taking photographs of the injuries and the scene of the bite. Gathering contact details of the dog owner and any witnesses is also important for any potential legal proceedings.

Is it possible to sue someone for a dog bite?
Individuals can indeed bring a lawsuit following a dog bite. If the owner of the dog was negligent, such as failing to leash their dog in a public space, the victim may have a strong legal claim. The owner can be liable regardless of whether they knew of the dog’s past aggressive behavior.

What is the time limit for filing a dog bite lawsuit?
The statute of limitations, which is the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed, is four years in Nebraska. It is important to be aware of the specific time limit to ensure legal actions are taken within the allowable period.

What types of compensation can be sought in a dog bite case?
Victims of dog bites may seek compensation that covers various damages, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and potentially punitive damages in cases of intentional or reckless conduct by the owner. The amount of compensation depends on factors such as the severity of the injuries and the details of the case.

Is legal representation necessary in dog bite lawsuits?
While individuals can represent themselves in legal matters, having a lawyer is beneficial, especially in complex cases. A lawyer with experience in dog bite litigation can provide guidance through legal processes and negotiations, potentially increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

How are dog bite cases handled when the owner is known to the victim?
In situations where the dog owner is a friend or family member of the victim, the process can be delicate. Typically, claims are made against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance rather than seeking direct financial compensation from the individual.

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Role of a Dog Bite Lawyer in Nebraska

Dog bite incidents can be both physically and emotionally traumatic, often leading to a complex legal situation for the victim. In these cases, the role of a dog bite lawyer is important. They have knowledge in state laws and regulations, specifically those pertaining to dog bites and owner liability. Understanding these laws is essential in the legal process.

A dog bite lawyer begins by thoroughly investigating the incident. This involves collecting and analyzing evidence, which can include medical records, photographs of injuries, and eyewitness accounts. They might also consult with experts like animal behaviorists or medical professionals to strengthen the case. This comprehensive approach is vital for establishing liability and understanding the extent of the victim’s injuries and trauma.

Negotiating with insurance companies is another critical role of these lawyers. Often, dog bite claims are handled through the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance. Lawyers have the experience and skill to negotiate effectively with these companies. This is particularly important as insurance companies often initially offer settlements that may not fully cover the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

If negotiations do not result in a satisfactory settlement, a dog bite lawyer is prepared to take the case to court. They provide legal representation, present the gathered evidence, and argue on behalf of the victim, aiming for a favorable verdict. This includes demonstrating the extent of the victim’s injuries, the impact on their life, and the liability of the dog owner.

Throughout this process, a dog bite lawyer also offers emotional and practical support to the victim. Dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite can be overwhelming, and having a lawyer to guide you through the legal jargon and procedures can alleviate much of the stress. They provide clarity and support, helping the victim understand each step of the process.

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Additional Resources

Nebraska Humane Society – Nebraska organization committed to overseeing regulations that relate to animals. Information on reporting animal issues and investigations is provided on their site. Information for pet owners related to care and behavior is also listed.

Nebraska Dog Bite Laws – The official site of the Nebraska Legislature’s statute on dog bites. The law explains liability for dog owners and potential damages. Defenses and exceptions are also included in the statute.

Dog Bite Prevention – Information provided by the Nebraska Humane Society on dog bite prevention. Tips for dog owners, children, and parents on how to prevent a dog attack. Individuals get clarification about the best ways to interact with a dog.

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Hiring a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

At Liberty Law Group, our team of civil trial attorneys is dedicated to pursuing justice on behalf of our clients. We use every resource available to provide the most comprehensive representation possible throughout the entire process of a dog bite personal injury case. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papaillion, and throughout the Nebraska counties of Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Cass. We also handle dog bite cases in Council Bluffs, Pattawattamie County, Iowa, and the surrounding Iowa counties of Harrison and Mills. If you or a loved one was injured by a dog bite or pet attack, contact our office immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case.

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