man suffering a dog bite in OmahaOmaha is a city that loves its dogs. Spend any time in downtown, city parks, or anywhere outside around the city in general, and you’re sure to encounter many different types of breeds, large and small. And while most locals are responsible pet owners, the reality is that thousands of dog bite injuries occur in Omaha every year. Even when a pet owner is taking all reasonable measures to secure their dog or other animal, attacks and bites still occur, and the resulting injuries are often severe - requiring expensive treatment.

When you or a loved one have been attacked or bitten by a dog in Omaha and suffered injury, you will likely have many questions about fault, legal responsibility, and how to obtain compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering. Nebraska has specific laws that are designed to deal with animal attacks of all varieties, yet it’s important to understand that the law alone will not guarantee you compensation. At Steffens Law, our Omaha dog bite lawyer will help you understand your legal options and when necessary, represent you in your injury claim to seek fair compensation from the responsible owner.

Do I Need a Dog Bite Attorney in Omaha?

Not always. Whether you need an Omaha dog bite attorney for an animal attack really depends on the nature and severity of the situation and the injuries sustained. Although an actual bite isn’t necessary to recover for injuries in Nebraska (discussed below in greater detail) if the injuries you have sustained are minor and do not require significant medical treatment, it’s likely that no attorney is necessary. Sometimes, a bite or scratch is superficial, and some simple disinfectant and a bandage are enough to heal the injury – this type of encounter certainly would not warrant legal representation.

However, other situations are much different. Clients who have sustained very serious injuries from animal attacks lasting several minutes or longer where victims sustained multiple bites that have required extensive hospital stays and sometimes even reconstructive surgery costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. In situations where injuries are serious and significant medical care is likely, it’s important to contact an experienced dog bite attorney in Omaha as soon as possible so that your lawyer may begin to work on the case immediately.

What Will an Omaha Dog Bite Lawyer Do for Me?

More than you might expect. An experienced dog bite lawyer will want to begin work on your case as early as possible. The best way to understand the extent of work involved is to break down the legal representation that should be undertaken in the below typical timeline:

1. After the Attack.

Usually, a victim will contact a law office and speak to someone who takes the necessary time to listen and understand the situation.

They will ask important questions about how, where, and why the attack occurred.

  • Who owned the dog?
  • Where were you when you were attacked?
  • Is the animal up to date on its vaccines?
  • Do you know the dog or its owner?
  • Does the animal have a history of bites or attacks?
  • Was animal control notified?
  • What is the nature of your injuries sustained, and what medical care have you received thus far?

Answering these questions will help the legal team begin to understand how to best build a case against the responsible owner going forward.

2. Fact and Legal Research.

Most people understand that lawyers use the law to determine liability, but what may not be as well understood is how the facts of a particular attack will inform your lawyers which law will likely apply. For example, Nebraska revised statute 54-601 provides that owners of dogs shall be liable for injuries that the dog causes a person, even from merely chasing them. So, if you cut and injured yourself on a fence trying to escape from a dog chasing you, Nebraska law holds the dog
owner liable.

This is just one of many examples where a dog may not have bitten a person, but its owner will still be liable for medical care, pain and suffering, and wages lost from a victim’s injuries. This is why it’s vital to select the right lawyer who has the necessary experience and resources to represent you competently in your animal attack personal injury case.

Your lawyer will also gather all available factual evidence of the attack, including video and pictures, eyewitness statements, and any reports taken by authorities such as animal control or veterinarians. This and other valuable information will help inform the strength of your case, the available defenses to liability which may exist, and potential settlement value.

3. Obtaining Medical Care.

This may seem easy – you’ve been injured in a dog attack, need medical care and the big building with the red cross on top provides it. Unfortunately, it’s a safe bet that whenever health insurance is involved, things are usually more complicated than they need to be. This is where a good dog bite lawyer will help. Your lawyer should be familiar with your health insurance, the liable party’s insurance, the nature of your injuries, what medical care you should seek.

Though of course, n attorney is not a doctor, and it’s always a good idea to heed the advice of your health care provider with respect to which medical care you need, its receiving and paying for the medical care where the right animal attack lawyer becomes crucial. A lawyer with the right experience can also negotiate down the cost of medical care you’ve already received, so you end up paying less in the end.

4. Negotiation and Settlement.

Once you’ve finished undergoing treatment and recovery, you will have reached what is known as maximum medical improvement, and it will be time to negotiate and resolve your case. Although a lawsuit may always be a possibility, the vast majority of personal injury claims, including those based on animal attacks, are resolved prior to going to court.

Your Omaha dog bite lawyer will use the evidence gathered, the medical records and expenses of your treatment and recovery, and the law to build a case and create a demand for settlement from the owner of the dog. Usually, this means a resolution through the dog owner’s home insurance company. But other entities may be responsible and need to be involved in the negotiation process.

After your lawyer and the relevant responsible parties reach settlement, your lawyer will help draft an agreement of resolution and facilitate paying you the compensation agreed between the parties. This entails paying for the medical care you received, the lawyer’s fee, and distributing it to you. So once the matter is resolved, you’ll hopefully be healed, your medical care will be paid, and you will be fully compensated for the trauma you endured from the animal attack.

How Much Will an Injury Attorney Cost?

Less than you might expect. Most dog bite lawyers charge nothing out of pocket for legal services, and instead work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer will handle all aspects of your legal matter, then after the case is resolved, will be paid 1/3 of the settlement. Although people may be taken aback by a lawyer charging one-third of the settlement, most cases that have a competent, experienced lawyer at the helm settle for much higher compensation than those with no legal representation.

The lawyer will likely be willing to pay for the costs of representation up front, so that you don’t have any unnecessary bills piling up. These expenses usually are minimal, and include things like medical bill and record copies, investigation or vaccination records, correspondence, and postage costs, etc. No one likes to pay for expenses, but a competent lawyer will pay these costs and keep a record of them so that they are deducted from the settlement and not out of your pocket.

Also, consider that a competent lawyer will use state law, such as the “Common Fund” doctrine to force medical providers who have provided you medical treatment to reduce their charges down by the same percentage as the legal fee. This means that, in the end, a good law firm will understand how to maximize your settlement value, and minimize the costs associated with your care. The right law firm essentially pays for itself.

Choosing the Right Omaha Attorney After an Animal Attack

Finding a lawyer is easy, but choosing the right one can be more daunting. When you have been seriously injured through the actions of an animal, at the outset, narrow your search to those attorneys with experience in animal attacks. Some general questions to have in mind:

  1. How many animal attack clients has the attorney or firm represented over the past several years?
  2. How long has the attorney or firm been in business?
  3. Does the attorney or law firm focus only on personal injury cases?
  4. What percentages of the attorney or firm’s matters end up in litigation (trial)?
  5. Finally, is the attorney accessible, and do they have a team in place to support the client at every step of their case?

You might also consider the reputation of the lawyer or law firm you’re considering. You can visit the Nebraska State Bar website here, and learn about the lawyer’s record of discipline. You may also ask friends, family, or review sites like Google or Yelp. If the lawyer’s firm has been around awhile and is competent, you can bet that they will have an online presence that’s easy to find.

Other lawyers too should be aware of the lawyer or firm you are considering. Nebraska is a big place, but the legal community is tight nit, and most personal injury attorneys are willing to provide advice or a reference for another lawyer they have worked with and would recommend. If you don’t, simply pick up the phone and call a friend that has had a good experience using a lawyer, then call that lawyer. Chances are, they’ll be more than willing to provide you a good referral.

Omaha dog bite lawyerHow do I Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer Around Omaha?

Most dog bite lawyers will have a new client phone number that’s easy to locate on their website. You can also stop into their office for a quick hello if the office is nearby and convenient for you. Some law firms even have chat services in place for easy introductory communication. Regardless of which method of contact you choose, get a feel for the lawyer and the law firm. Both should be easy to access, listen to your specific situation, and ask good questions that demonstrate you are being listened to.

Once you find a lawyer you like and both of you determine a good working relationship is likely, the lawyer will share the firm’s client agreement with you. The agreement should be clear, easy to understand, and include all material terms such as cost, the scope of representation, and rules of the road. Finally, after all the necessary documents are signed, and you have provided your contact and other information to begin the case, the lawyer will get to work on advocating for you.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys at Steffens Law Office in Omaha

The attorneys at Steffens Law Offices work hard every day for their clients, fighting to obtain the full compensation due to them for the injuries and trauma suffered. With experience totaling more than 25 years and offices throughout Nebraska, including Omaha, they know how best to help you through what must be a very difficult time. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Call our experienced Omaha dog bite attorney at Steffens Law Offices today for a FREE consultation - (308) 872-8327!

William V. Steffens
Nebraska Personal Injury & Bankruptcy Attorney With 34+ Years Of Experience