Dog bites are an unfortunate occurrence that happen frequently all over the United States. Dogs generally are safe animals and are not naturally aggressive towards humans. Negligent pet owners and irresponsible inbreeding can result in a dog having mental instabilities and tendencies for aggressive behavior.
Dog bite laws exist in states all across the country. These laws aim to protect the victims of dog bites and hold owners accountable for their dog’s dangerous actions. A dog bite victim can recover compensation for any damages that occur as a result of being bitten. However, a special dog bite statute exists in the state of Nebraska, stating that dog bite law does not apply if the dog caused the accident through playfulness or mischievousness.
Nebraska has the following strict liability law that applies not only to dog bites, but to any means of injury including scratches, knockdowns, etc.:
54-601. Dogs; personal property; owner liable for damages.
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 (1) to any person, other than a trespasser, by reason of having been bitten by any 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, firm, or corporation. Such damage may be recovered in any court having jurisdiction of the amount claimed.
The playfulness and mischievousness exception is thought by many attorneys to be a flawed concept. The terms “playful” and “mischievous” are broad and undefined, and it is impossible to understand a dog’s intent for their actions. Often these cases are decided based upon the “expert” testimony of witnesses of the accident and the dog’s regular behavior. The nature of these witnesses, in that they are often the friends and family members of the dog owner, is that they are strongly biased, untrustworthy, or false.
How Common Are Dog Bites in Nebraska?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), each year more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs. Nearly twenty percent of those bites require medical attention. More than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites every year, and at least fifty percent of those are children. Children are more likely to be severely injured by a dog bite and are most often bitten by a familiar dog during everyday activities.
Despite the national numbers, dog bites in Nebraska are still considered rare. In 2012, just over 300 dog bites were reported across the state. There are approximately 70 million dogs in the United States, so roughly 1 dog for every 4.5 people. About 27,000 people in the United States every year undergo reconstructive surgery as a result of a dog bite. And in 2013, 31 people in the United States died as a result of a dog bite.
The frequency of dog bites in the state of Nebraska can be greatly reduced and even disappear with modifications in dog owner behavior. Responsible dog breeding, early dog training, and early dog socialization lead to better adult dog behavior. Even the smallest sign of aggression should immediately be noted and addressed. Responsible, humane euthanization is recommended for dogs who are determined by a professional to be unfit to exist around humans.
If you or someone you love have been the victim of a dog bite in the state of Nebraska, an Omaha, NE dog bite lawyer from Welsh & Welsh can help. Our team is experienced in navigating the tricky waters of the Nebraska dog bite statute. We will work tirelessly to recover the financial compensation you deserve. Contact our legal team today for a free, zero-obligation consultation of your case.