Omaha Dog Bite Attorney
While many of us are proud pet owners, we should never forget that dogs can be involved in serious attacks. For years, dogs have been bred to protect property and hunt other animals, and those instincts are still innate. After a dog attacks, the victim is often left with painful injuries, emotional scarring, and costly medical bills to contend with. However, under Nebraska state law, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the injuries and other damages.
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At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we can provide strong and compassionate legal representation in dog bite cases. Our founding attorney, Jason Bottlinger, has years of experience in personal injury matters and a successful track record of recovering compensation for his clients. He has been awarded membership in the elite Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. If you or someone you love was injured by a dog in Omaha, call (402) 505-8234 today to set up a free consultation.
Dogs are known as man’s best friend, but they are not always friendly to strangers. Vicious dog attacks can cause serious injury to people of any age, particularly children. In a study published by the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, researchers found that 551 children ages 5 months to 18 years old were treated in the emergency room of a children’s hospital for dog bites over a five-year period – that is at least one bite every three days at just this one hospital. Infants and preschoolers involved in the study were mostly bitten in the face, while older children were bitten mainly in the extremities. These children were attacked by more than 30 different breeds of dogs.
Dog attacks can be incredibly traumatizing for children, often leading to lifelong emotional injuries and serious physical disabilities. It can also be difficult for a parent to cover the high costs of emergency bills, long-term treatment, and psychiatric aid without strong financial support. However, under Nebraska state law, it may be possible for a victim to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner.
The state of Nebraska has a strict liability dog bite law. Dog owners are strictly liable for any and all damages caused by their dogs to anyone except trespassers, regardless of whether the dog has shown aggressive tendencies in the past. The statute applies not only to dog bites but also to any injury caused by a dog, including knockdowns and scratches. It also applies when a dog chases, kills, or wounds other domestic animals, such as sheep that are the property of another person or company.
However, in Underhill v. Hobelman, 279 Neb. 30, 33 (2009), the Nebraska Supreme Court held that the dog bite statute does not apply to playful or mischievous acts of dogs - when a dog unintentionally injures someone in play. In such cases, to recover damages, the victim must satisfy the requirements of the "one-bite rule."
In other words, the victim must show that the dog had a propensity to bite or otherwise cause harm, that the owner or keeper knew of this dangerous propensity before the incident in question occurred, and that the dog’s propensity to cause harm was the cause of damages in the incident.
Child victims, as well as the elderly, are at special risk when a dog attacks. However, depending on the size, aggression, and number of animals, even a healthy adult can be mortally wounded by an unexpected attack. The injuries to the victim may include:
- Facial lacerations: Children are more at risk for trauma to the head, face, and neck. This is especially true with attacks involving children, as children are shorter, and dogs can easily reach their heads. Many victims are left with serious trauma to their heads, faces, and neck.
- Open wounds and damaged tissue: Bleeding out is a serious danger if a large dog is able to sever a vein or artery, especially in the upper arm or leg. Often, when dogs latch on to a victim with their jaws, they will perform a shaking motion that can rip and destroy skin, connective tissue, muscle, nerves, and more. Disfigurement and scarring are very likely in these cases.
- Broken and dislocated bones: Especially if a dog’s attack drives the victim to the ground, the victim can suffer fractures to the hands, wrists, elbows, and hip. If the dog bites an extremity, like the arm, and yanks on it, the joint can be dislocated and the soft tissue damaged.
- Spinal cord injuries: Serious falls, especially involving older adults, can result in catastrophic damage to the spinal column. If victims are knocked down against hard pavement or concrete, they can suffer paralysis, slipped discs, and intense pain.
- Infection: Dogs’ mouths carry bacteria and other germs. If a bite goes deep enough, the victim can get blood poisoning. It is vital for all dog bites to be cleaned thoroughly, right after the incident. Getting professional medical help is a wise decision.
- Rabies: Wild animals like foxes, coyotes, bats, and raccoons can tangle with pet dogs and transmit the rabies virus. Because rabies makes animals more aggressive, dog owners need to be vigilant and look for signs of the disease, especially for dogs that are kept outdoors. In addition, many cities require current rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats. Rabies can be fatal in humans if not treated swiftly.
After any attack, be sure to report the incident right away. Animal Control may need to quarantine the dog to make sure it isn’t rabid. If you can, take pictures of the dog and the wounds as evidence of your case.
It can be difficult to respond logically in the aftermath of a dog attack, but victims are advised to:
- Get to Safety: If you or someone you love was attacked by a dog, you should immediately get to safely and find shelter in a nearby home or business where the dog cannot hurt you.
- Receive Medical Attention: Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is important to contact paramedics or head to an emergency room to have your injuries reviewed by a professional. Shock can hide serious injuries, and you may be dealing with a dangerous infection.
- Report the Attack: All dog attacks in Omaha should be immediately reported to the Nebraska Humane Society, which can be reached at (402) 444-7800, ext 1. The organization can investigate the incident, have the dog quarantined and evaluated for diseases (such as rabies), and file a report to help support an injury claim.
- Obtain the Owner’s Information: If possible, try to identify and speak to the dog owner to receive their contact information and insurance policy.
- Take Photos/Videos of the Dog: If it is safe to do so, make sure to take photos or videos of the dog, as these can help identify the animal at a later date and provide evidence of the dog’s violent nature. It is also important to take photos of your injuries to show the extent of the damage.
- Contact an Attorney: An Omaha dog bite attorney can outline your legal rights after an attack and advocate for compensation from the animal’s owner.
After dog bite injuries, as with any personal injury, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses in a court of law, or through an insurance claim, and you hold the right to retain legal representation. In our state, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their animals (except when the injury is caused by a playful or mischievous act of the dog). You have the right to seek a range of damages including:
- All medical expenses related to your injuries, including long-term care, emergency treatment, physical therapy, and reconstructive surgery
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity if you are disabled due to the attack
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium, if you lost a loved one in the attack
These damages can be recovered in a personal injury claim against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, which typically has a maximum of $100,000 to $300,000 according to the Insurance Information Institute, or through a lawsuit directly against the owner.
In Nebraska, some dogs are known to be vicious. The Nebraska Humane Society and local animal control have the ability to designate a dog as a “potentially dangerous dog” (PDD) through administrative action. This creates a two-year probation for the dog and owner. “Unprovoked aggression” is enough cause to designate a dog a PDD, which can include: the dog attacking another animal, or the dog chasing a person in a menacing manner on a public street. However, a judge is able to rule an animal as a “dangerous dog” (DD) if it causes serious injury to people or fatally mauls other pets.
Dogs that cause fatal maulings almost always have a history of aggressive and destructive behavior. If you lost a loved one, especially a small child, to a dog attack, please do not hesitate to speak to an Omaha wrongful death lawyer. We can investigate the facts and circumstances leading up to the tragic incident and determine whether you are owed compensation.
Dog attacks can be terrifying, emotionally damaging ordeals on top of causing serious physical injuries, especially for children and older adults. No one deserves to deal with the costs of such injuries when the attack could have been prevented. That is why the team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. is dedicated to advocating for dog bite victims so that they can recover compensation for their trauma.
By working with an experienced Omaha personal injury attorney, you can assure that your case will be handled with professionalism and diligence. We can thoroughly investigate your injuries, look into the dog’s background, and collect evidence of owner negligence. In addition, certain municipalities require the owners of dangerous dogs to comply with additional safeguards and have liability insurance to protect future victims, and we can investigate these facts as well. We work on a contingency-fee basis and charge no fees unless we get you the money you deserve by law.
At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we will protect your rights after serious or fatal dog bite injuries. Contact us today at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation.
- The Very Real Danger of Fake Service Dogs
- Laying Down the "Leash" Law in Omaha
- Dog Bite Emergencies - American Veterinary Medical Association
- Nebraska Revised Statute 54-601
- Bites and Dangerous Animals - Nebraska Humane Society
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