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Dogs are man’s best friends – until they aren’t. Aggressive dogs and inadequate owner control can lead to serious and sometimes fatal dog bite attacks in Minnesota. According to DogsBite.org, 392 people in the US died from canine attacks from 2005 to 2016. Many victims were children and the elderly. No one can predict dog attacks, but it is often possible to prevent them. Learning Minnesota’s dog bite laws and your potential legal remedies after such an incident is important to you and your family’s future. Let Knutson + Casey help you protect your rights.
Minnesota Statutes Section 347.22 states that the owner is liable for damages if a dog attacks or injures a person without provocation. This law favors dog bite victims in that the victim does not have to prove the owner’s negligence or that the dog had a history of aggression. Many other states abide by a “one bite” rule, meaning the owner will not be liable for injuries unless he or she knew or reasonably should have known of the dog’s aggression. In other words, the dog had bitten or attacked someone in the past. In Minnesota, however, an owner is liable regardless of any knowledge of a dog’s aggressive history.
A dog’s “owner,” according to the law, includes anyone “harboring or keeping a dog” at the time of the attack, not just the actual owner. The defense of comparative negligence is not applicable in dog bite cases. However, if the owner can show that the dog bite victim provoked the dog or was trespassing in an area he or she should not have been at the time of the attack, the owner may escape liability. The law in Minnesota is an absolute, strict liability statute. This means that negligence will have no place in litigation. It will not matter if someone was negligent in the attack – the owner will be liable regardless of the circumstances.
Minnesota’s dog bite law applies to all injuries and attacks by a male or female canine, not just bites. This can include crush injuries, a dog knocking someone down, and even property damage. In any case where a dog causes personal injuries or other real damages without provocation in Minnesota, the owner will be liable. The courts may also decide to impose other penalties on the dog’s owner in cases involving serious injuries or death, as well as rule on the possible euthanizing of the dog. These decisions are up to the individual judge and municipality in Minnesota.
Seek medical attention immediately after an animal attack. Animal attacks commonly include open wounds such as scratches and bites that can become infected if you do not take the proper care. Retain all medical bills for future reference. If possible, gather information about the animal’s vaccinations and owner. If you cannot easily find this information, try asking a neighbor for the owner’s contact information. If there are any witnesses, ask for a written statement. Once you have begun to recover from the attack, contact a personal injury lawyer to assist with recovery of damages.
If a friend’s, neighbor’s, or stranger’s dog recently attacked you or a loved one, resulting in injuries, protect your rights by consulting with an attorney. You may need to file an official claim against the dog’s owner to receive payment for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. Do not try to negotiate or strike a deal with the dog owner. The owner may decide to give you false contact information or may take off with the dog, leaving you with no legal remedy for your damages. Protect your future by reporting the attack to the police and speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident occurs.
A dog attack can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills, permanent scarring and disfigurement, and significant emotional distress. Many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after a violent dog attack or nightmares and anxiety. Dog bites in children can be especially life changing and may result in the child being permanently scared of dogs or of going outside. Don’t suffer in silence after a vicious dog attack. Come to Knutson + Casey for legal representation. Contact us to schedule your free consultation in Minneapolis or St. Paul.