Who is Responsible if I'm Bitten by a Dog? Mar. 24, 2023
Three Things to Know About a Personal Injury from Dog Bites
By Melissa Heinlein, Esq.
When temps rise above freezing, Minnesotans and their pups love to get outside for some much-needed fresh air. Our beloved dog parks will soon be a furry frenzy. With the joy of the changing seasons, however, there comes a spike in dog attacks.
A dog bite is probably the first thing that comes to your mind, but dogs can also cause injury by jumping up on someone or knocking them down. These incidents can be severe enough to warrant urgent medical attention, especially if there's any concern that the dog may have rabies. You should always contact Animal Control and go to the emergency room right away if you suffer a dog or cat bite.
If you are bit by someone's dog the owner may be liable for your medical bills, as well as your pain and suffering and any permanent scarring.
There are 3 key things to know if you're bit by a dog in Minnesota.
- The dog's owner is primarily liable for your injuries, so long as you were behaving peacefully, did nothing to provoke the animal, and had the legal right to be in the place where the bite occurred. That means that if you were trespassing on someone else's lawn, you might not have any legal recourse.
Even if a dog walker or another temporary custodian was taking care of the dog when it lashed out, the MN statute maintains that the owner is primarily liable. Be sure to exchange information with the person in control of the dog, because without their contact information, there is no way you can pursue settlement or a lawsuit.
- Homeowner's insurance and renter's insurance policies typically have provisions to cover dog bite liability. This allows many cases to be resolved through insurance settlements instead of contentious lawsuits. If you are able to get the policy information from the dog's owner at the time of incident, that is ideal. You should always contact the police and animal control when attacked by a dog. Often police will gather the insurance information from the at-fault party for you and provide it in their police report.T
There are times when a dog attack occurs between friends or neighbors, and the injured party may be reluctant to take legal action against someone they know. It can feel like "too much" to get lawyers involved. However, if the liable party has proper insurance, their insurance company and your attorney can deal with resolving the claim. "Minnesota nice" should not stop you from getting compensated for your damages.
- Minnesota imposes strict liability on dog bites. "Strict liability" is a legal term meaning that the injured party does not need to prove that the at-fault party was behaving negligently. So, if someone's dog attacks you, you do not have to prove that the owner was doing anything wrong, or that they knew the dog had dangerous tendencies. What matters is that the attack happened. You should still report the incident to the police and animal control, take pictures or video if possible as proof that you were acting peaceably and did nothing to provoke the attack, and had the legal right to be where you were when the incident occurred.
If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, call (612) 333-5673 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. At Lord + Heinlein we are your powerful legal voice.