Earlier this month, a Nebraska court heard a case brought by a woman who was injured when she stepped back to avoid an approaching dog that she thought was going to attack her. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiff’s case should be able to proceed towards trial, despite the fact that the dog did not bite her, since she alleged that her injuries were still the result of a dangerous dog.
The facts of the case are fairly straightforward. A woman and her husband approached a neighbor’s yard with two dogs present. One of the dogs was chained, and the other was not. As the couple approached, the dog ran toward them. The woman, fearing that the approaching dog would attack her, stepped backwards and lost her balance, falling to the ground and injuring her arm. The woman filed a lawsuit against the owner of the dogs.
The trial court dismissed the case against the defendant, claiming that under the relevant state statute, the evidence was insufficient to show that the injury was caused by the dog “chasing” the plaintiff. However, on appeal, the court reversed the decision, holding that the lower court’s definition of “chase” was too narrow, and the evidence presented was sufficient to show that the injuries were caused by the dog chasing the plaintiff.