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John Inserra
John Inserra
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Nebraska Dog Bites Fall Under Strict Liability Statute

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They are man’s best friend.  They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.  Although the majority of time dogs are docile and friendly, they sometimes can be dangerous.  Dogs can be aggressive, sometimes lacking malicious intent, but causing serious injury or death nonetheless.  In Nebraska, dog owners are liable for any and all damages to anyone except a trespasser under a statutory strict liability.

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 54-601 sets forth dog bite liability.  As dogs are personal property for all intents and purposes, the owner of a dog is liable for any and all damages that could accrue (1) to any person other than a trespasser by reason of having been bitten by such dog or dogs and (2) 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.  Owners become strictly liable for the actions of their dogs.

The Nebraska dog bite statute also applies to scratches, knock-downs and other attacks.  In 2009, the Supreme Court clarified the legislative intent in Underhill v. Hobelman, 279 Neb. 30, 34 (2009).  Underwood demonstrated that not only does Nebraska’s dog bite statute apply to bites, but any means of injury.  A potential exception is the dog that causes damages during playful and mischievous acts.  Donner v. Plymate, 193 Neb. 647, 649-650 (1975).  Nebraska recognizes a strict liability standard for nearly all dog bites.  Donner determined that, when read together, the terms “killing”, “wounding”, “worrying” and “chasing” implied the dog was acting aggressively.  The Nebraska statute does not require the injury to be inflicted maliciously, however.

Nebraska’s strict liability statute on dog attacks and dog bites allows for recovery for damages without a showing of negligence on the part of the owner.  If you have been bitten by a dog, make sure you file a dog bite report with the Nebraska Humane Society.  You will want to gather the following information:

1)   Information about the dog that bit you, including name, age, address, color, breed and vaccination history (if available).  You may be able to find some of this information on the bite report completed by the Nebraska Humane Society.  Do NOT attempt to approach the dog again to obtain this information on your own.  You could risk further injury.

2)   Information about the owner of the dog, including name, address and phone number.

3)   Name of the dog’s veterinarian.

4)   Photos of the dog bite and the area of the attack.  If your clothing was torn, take photographs of the damage to your clothing, as well as keeping the clothing.  You may need it at a later time.

5)   Copies of any medical bills you receive as a result of treatment for the bite or attack.

It is important to hire an attorney early in order to protect your rights.  Dog bite claims have time limits in which to bring your claim, so be sure to contact an attorney with experience handling dog bite claims.

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