Nebraska Dog Law
A dog owner is strictly liable for any damages that any person, other than a trespasser, sustains after being bitten by a dog, so long as the injured person did not provoke the attack. Dog owners are also strictly liable for damages if their dog, when unprovoked, kills, wounds, injures, worries, or chases any person. Under this statute, all persons who are injured by dogs, except trespassers, are not required to prove that the dog owner had knowledge of the dog's vicious tendency or that the dog had previously bitten anyone. The statute also permits trespassers to recover for dog-bite injuries if they prove that the dog's owner knew of the animal's vicious propensity.
Common Law Liability
In addition to the Dog Bite statute, a dog owner will be liable for injury caused by a dog under the common law if the plaintiff shows that the dog was vicious and that the owner knew or had reason to know of its viciousness.
Dangerous Dog Statute
The Meaning of a "Dangerous Dog"
In Nebraska, a "dangerous dog" is any dog that, according to the records of an animal control authority:
- has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person. A severe injury is one that results in disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery, a broken bone, or one that creates a potential danger to the victim's life or health.
- has killed a domestic animal, without provocation, while the dog was off the owner's property; or
- has been previously determined to be a "potentially dangerous dog" and it thereafter aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals.
- Under the statute, a dog cannot be labeled "dangerous" if it caused an injury that was not severe, or if the injured person was, at the time of the injury, committing a willful trespass or any other tort on the dog owner's property, or if the injured person was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, and that person has, in the past, been observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog, or who was committing or attempting to commit a crime.
The Meaning of a "Potentially Dangerous Dog"
A "potentially dangerous dog" is:
- any dog that, when unprovoked, inflicts a non-severe injury on a human or injures a domestic animal, or chases or approaches a person off the owner's property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack; or
- any specific dog with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack when unprovoked, to cause injury, or to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.
Legal Responsibilities of Dangerous Dog Owners
- Dangerous dog owners cannot permit their dogs to go beyond their property, unless the dog is securely restrained by a chain or leash.
- While unattended on the owner's property, dangerous dogs must either be securely confined indoors or confined outdoors in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure designed to prevent the entry of young children, as well as the escape of the animal. The pen or structure must have secure sides and a secure top. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground. The pen or structure must be at least 10 feet from any property line of the owner.
- The owner of a dangerous dog must post a clearly-visible sign warning people of the dog's presence on the property. Each warning sign must be no less than 10 inches by 12 inches and must contain the words "Warning" and "Dangerous Animal" in high-contrast lettering at least three inches high on a black background.
Liability of Owners with Dangerous Dog
In addition to civil liability, a violation of the Dangerous Dog Statute is a misdemeanor. If the violation leads to human injury, the violation becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor for the first offense, and a Class IV felony for repeat offenses.
Dog Collar Statute
This statute requires all dog owners to keep a collar with a metallic identification tag around their dogs' necks at all times. The dog owner's name must be plainly inscribed on the tag.
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