Do “Beware of Dog” Signs Affect Dog Bite Liability?
Nebraska is a strict liability state for dog bites. Under the law, dog owners are liable for any injuries or damages their animals cause, regardless of negligence. Although dog and property owners may try to use signs that say “Beware of Dog” as a defense if the dog attacks a person, this will not protect them from liability in most cases. Under our state’s strict liability dog bite statutes, owners are liable for “any and all damages that may accrue . . . to any person, other than a trespasser, by reason of having been bitten by any such dog or dogs . . .”
How Could a “Beware of Dog” Sign Help the Property Owner?
Signs that warn visitors to beware of a dangerous dog can provide some legal protection for property owners:
- They provide warning to visitors, delivery personnel, etc. that they should stay away from the animal to avoid an attack. This may protect dog owners from liability by preventing dog bite injuries. It may also be a mitigating factor in case of a lawsuit.
- If the dog is dangerous, the owner is required to keep it securely confined in a humane manner and to post warning signs on the property where the dog is kept, pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute 54-619. Owners of dangerous dogs who post “Beware of Dog” signs are complying with state law.
Who Is Protected Under the Law When Bitten On a Dog Owner’s Property?
Nebraska law specifies that dogs are personal property and dog owners are liable for any and all damages suffered by any person other than a trespasser that result from being bitten by a dog. Dog owners are strictly liable for attacks on neighbors, visitors, invited guests, mail delivery personnel, UPS, FedEx, and other delivery workers, and anyone other than trespassers bitten on their property.
If a person is lawfully visiting the dog owner’s property when the dog bites, posted signs warning of the danger will not protect the owner from liability. Trespassers may also recover for dog bite injuries if they are able to prove that the dog owner knew of the dog’s aggressive tendencies, for example if the dog had bitten someone previously.
What If the Dog Escapes Confinement?
State law is specific about how owners of dangerous dogs must keep their animals confined. While unattended on the owner’s property, they must be “securely confined, in a humane manner, indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen suitably designed to prevent the entry of young children and to prevent the dog from escaping.” If a dangerous dog escapes confinement and attacks and injures someone, the owner may be held liable.
Requirements for confining dangerous dogs under Statute 54-619 include the following:
- The pen or structure must have secure sides and a secure top.
- If the bottom of the structure is not secured to the sides, it must be embedded in the ground at a depth of at least one foot.
- The pen or structure must be located at least ten feet from any property line.
- The pen or structure must protect the dog from the elements.
- The owner must post warning signs on the property that are clearly visible from all areas of public access.
- The signs must be at least 10 inches by 12 inches with high-contrast lettering at least three inches high on a black background.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, contact an Omaha dog bite injury lawyer at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234. We have the legal skills and experience to effectively pursue the maximum compensation available in dog bite cases.
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