Bitten By Someone Else’s Dog? Here Are Your Options
Dogs are known as man’s best friend. While it is true they can bring happiness to the lives of many people, being bitten by a dog can cause a lot of pain and distress.
Dog bites impact the lives of so many people each year that Minnesota has some substantial laws to address them. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, and you are not the owner, you have legal options – especially if you were injured to the point of requiring medical treatment.
Dog bite law in Minnesota is complicated, and there’s a lot to know. Here’s what you can do if you’re bitten by a friend’s or stranger’s dog.
Dog Bite Laws in Minnesota
In Minnesota, dog bite laws favor the victim of the incident. If someone is injured due to a dog bite, then the injured party can hold the owner of the dog liable if they meet certain criteria. These include:
- The victim of the dog bite was lawfully on the property where they were bitten, whether it was private or public property
- The victim was acting in a peaceable way
- The victim did not provoke the dog to attack
Dog bite law in Minnesota applies to damages caused when a dog injures or attacks someone. Any injuries that are the result of the dog’s behavior, including bites, are covered by the law.
The laws surrounding dog bites in Minnesota cover bites that happen on personal property, such as a neighbor’s home or the home of a friend or family member. But they also cover dog bites that occur on public property, like sidewalks, parks, or lakeside.
Minnesota’s Strict Liability
The rule that covers dog bites in Minnesota falls under “strict liability”. This means that, as long as the requirements mentioned above are met, the owner of the dog is held liable – even in cases where they couldn’t have known or didn’t know the dog would act in an aggressive way, whether biting or even attacking another person.
Basically, in Minnesota, a dog owner doesn’t have to know their dog is considered dangerous to be held liable for the damages that result from the bite. Also, for the purposes of the law, the owner of the dog is defined as anyone keeping or harboring the dog at the time of the incident, not simply the legal owner of the dog.
Statute of Limitations on Dog Bites
In Minnesota, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court from the date of your injury. If you wait longer than that, you can lose the right to bring a lawsuit forward in connection with the dog bite.
What Can a Victim Sue For?
Sometimes, a victim of a dog bite will think that their case isn’t serious enough to justify a personal injury lawsuit. However, that may not truly be the case.
The fact of the matter is that anyone who is injured by a dog can pursue a case in the civil court system for personal injuries.
Many people end up filing a dog bite lawsuit to compensate them for losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Nerve damage
If you are injured in any way by a dog, then the chances are that the owner is liable for your injuries and any costs associated.
What You Should Do If Bitten By a Dog
If you are bitten by a dog, there are certain steps you should follow. These are not only for your personal safety but also to ensure a case, if you decide to bring a lawsuit later.
First and foremost, get medical attention immediately after the incident. Scratches or open wounds caused by the attack can become infected, so they must be cared for properly. Seeking medical attention also creates a firm record of your injuries, which are critical to any case involving a dog bite.
Make sure to keep medical bills associated with your injuries. Gather information about the animal’s up-to-date or outdated vaccinations from the owner, for your own safety as well. You always want the contact information for the owner.
If there were witnesses to the attack, make sure to get their statements in writing as well as their contact information. Then, you can contact an attorney to assist with filing a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Remember to always be careful around animals – no matter how well you feel you may know them.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.