A dog showing signs of aggression.

Dog bites can cause traumatic injuries, both physically and emotionally. If you or your child were harmed in a dog attack, you may be able to pursue compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages from the liable party or their insurance provider. 

Thus, determining fault and liability is essential for victims to recover compensation for dog bite injuries. In most dog bite cases, the owner is responsible for damages. However, if someone else, such as a family member or dog walker, was controlling or keeping the animal, that person may be liable as well.

The personal injury lawyers of Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf, & Lathrop have helped many dog bite victims recover maximum compensation for their injuries and losses. Contact us today at (402) 241-5020 to schedule a FREE case review. 

How Local Dog Bite Laws May Affect Liability

Each state sets its own dog bite statutes. The party who can be held liable for a dog bite attack will depend on the circumstances of your case and the laws in your area. 

Some states, like Nebraska, impose strict liability on dog bite cases. Therefore, under state law, a dog’s owner can be held responsible for injuries and damages regardless of whether or not the dog has a history of aggressive behavior

Other states follow some version of the “one-bite” rule, which is based on the legal theory of negligence. Typically, under this law, pet owners can only be held liable for injuries their dog caused if they knew the animal had a history of being aggressive or a propensity towards violence. 

Who Is Liable for Dog Bites?

If you or a loved one is pursuing compensation for a dog bite, it’s in your best interests to contact an attorney sooner rather than later. Dog bite attorneys will know the dog bite laws in your state. 

As such, experienced lawyers will be able to identify parties liable for your injuries and losses. Consider the following, for instance: One or more of these parties may be responsible for what happened to you.

Dog owners

By state law, dogs are considered to be the personal property of their owners. As such, dog owners in this state are subject to strict liability when their animals harm someone. 

Thus, if someone’s dog bites or causes injury in another manner to a person – such as by knocking him or her to the ground – then the dog’s owner is liable for damages. In Nebraska, this is true even if the dog lacks a history of aggression.

A dog bite lawyer can help you gather the evidence needed to file a claim against the dog owner. Typically, in cases where the dog’s owner is liable, the damages pursued in the personal injury claim will be paid by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy

However, depending on the laws in the state where you live, dog owners have some potential defenses to dog bite claims.

A dog owner may not be held liable for a dog bite when the dog was:

  • Being abused or provoked by the person who was injured
  • Reacting to injury or pain
  • Protecting its owner or home from the person who was injured
  • Protecting the property from a trespasser who was injured

Dog walkers and caretakers

In addition to dog owners, temporary caretakers of a dog may also be liable for dog bite injuries. Caretakers may include dog walkers, veterinary clinics, grooming facilities, or doggy daycares.

Dog walkers and other caretakers should be proactive by taking steps to mitigate the risk of dog bites and protect themselves from liability:

  • Screening and assessing: Before taking on a new client, dog walkers should inquire about the dog’s behavior, history of aggression, and any special instructions provided by the owner
  • Training and handling: Every dog caretaker should be trained in canine behavior and body language to recognize signs of fear, stress, or aggression
  • Communicating: A dog walker should inform the dog’s owner of any incidents or concerns regarding the animal’s behavior and follow any specific instructions about handling and care
  • Insuring: Dog caretakers should consider taking out a liability insurance policy covering incidents involving dog bites

Animal caretakers have an obligation to keep the dogs they are caring for from hurting others. For instance, if a dog walker is negligent, and an animal in his or her care injures someone, the dog walker could be held responsible for resulting damages. 


Many landlords choose not to rent to dog owners to protect themselves from potential dog bite liability. However, situations still arise when a landlord may be liable for injuries inflicted by a tenant’s dog.

Typically, the court will hold a landlord liable for a dog attack if he or she:

  • Knew the dog was dangerous
  • Had the authority to have the dog removed from the property, or;
  • Was “harboring” or caring for the dog 

Holding a landlord liable for a dog bite injury may not be easy on your own. Either way, give the attorneys at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf, & Lathrop a call.

We work for you and can steer you in the right direction at no cost. And if we take on your case, you can be sure that you are being represented by a personal injury lawyer who has a deep understanding of dog bite and premises liability laws in your area. 

Children and parents

The American Veterinary Medical Association has reported that close to 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention. Tragically, children are the most common victims of dog bites. 

When a child is the victim of an animal attack, the dog’s owner might claim that the child contributed to the attack by provoking the dog. The dog owner could also claim the child was trespassing by entering private property. 

Generally, under the law, children under 18 are not held to the same legal standards as adults. If a parent knew a dog was dangerous but failed to keep his or her child away from the dog, the parent could be responsible for the incident rather than the dog’s owner. 

Businesses with dogs

Nowadays, it’s becoming more common for businesses to allow pets on their premises. Stores that allow customers to bring dogs inside thereby increase their risk of dog bites and premises liability claims.

Consider the following scenario: An employee observes a customer bringing a dog into the store, and the dog is behaving aggressively. The employee does not take steps to ask the customer to remove the dog from the premises, and the dog bites and injures someone. 

In this hypothetical situation, the business owner could be partially or fully liable for the animal attack. 

Evidence Used to Determine Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Even if you live in a state that follows strict liability laws in dog bite cases, you will still need to provide evidence that proves liability and damages. A dog bite lawyer can locate and retain critical pieces of evidence on your behalf. 

The following evidence may be used to determine liability in dog bite cases:

  • Police or animal control reports: After an attack, it’s important to call animal services and report the incident. This is one way to record the date and time of the attack, information about the dog breed and owner, and other valuable information. 
  • Photos: If possible, take photos of the dog that bit you, the location of the attack, and the injuries you sustained.
  • Your clothes: Preserve the clothing you wore in the same condition they were at the time of the attack. Bloodied or torn clothing can serve as compelling evidence if your case goes to trial. 
  • Witness statements: Obtain the contact information and statements from witnesses who saw the dog bite you. These statements can offer an impartial viewpoint of the incident and prove the negligent party’s liability. 
  • Forensic evidence: Forensic evidence may be needed when you cannot identify a dog immediately after an attack. This could include dental impressions, fur, blood, or saliva from the suspected dog. 

Our Dog Bite Injury Lawyers Can Help You Determine Fault and Liability 

The personal injury attorneys at our law firm understand the devastating impact a dog bite attack can have on your life, and we want to fight for you to receive just compensation. When we take on your case, you can be sure of our compassionate legal team’s support and hard work for your best interests.

Typically, the dog’s owner is held liable for a dog bite injury, but proof is required. Our dog bite injury lawyers can investigate your case, gather evidence, file your claim, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. 

Don’t hesitate to contact our law firm to learn more about your legal rights and options. We take all dog bite cases on contingency, and your initial consultation with us is free. Complete the contact form or call us 24/7 at (402) 241-5020.

by Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
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Posted in: Animal Bites