Can You Get Compensation for Dog Bite If Owner Denies Responsibility?

Police dogs should be shining examples of a well-trained dog. But even these highly-behaved working dogs act like untrained animals sometimes.

In Duluth, the city awarded a woman $50,000 after she was bitten during a police dog encounter. The victim was making her rounds as a hotel housekeeper when the dog bit her on the thigh.

The Duluth City Council, who approved the settlement, denies that the payment admits any admission of liability. This just goes to show the complicated nature of Minnesota dog bite cases.

Here’s what you need to know about dog bite cases and the compensation you may want to seek if bitten.

Minnesota Dog Bite Law

The dog bite law in Minnesota states that a person injured by a dog can hold the owner liable for injuries—if all of the following are true:

  • The victim was acting in a peaceful way
  • The victim’s presence on the property was legal, whether private or public
  • The victim did not provoke the dog

These laws apply to the owner of the dog in question, as well as any person who keeps the dog. If someone harbors a dog, they too can be subject to liability – though the owner of the dog always remains primarily liable.

What About Strict Liability in Minnesota?

A strict liability rule applies to dog bites in Minnesota. This means that dog owners can be held liable even if they didn’t know the dog could act in an aggressive way.

Also, the statute doesn’t require the bitten person to prove the dog owner’s negligence. In these liability cases, owner negligence or the dog’s past good behavior don’t make a difference.

However, victims can recover compensation based on negligence in some cases.

What Types of Injuries are Covered by the Law?

When a dog assaults or hurts a person, the dog bite law in Minnesota will cover certain injuries. These include:

  • Any bite injury
  • Injuries that result from a dog jumping on someone
  • Injuries that result from a dog knocking someone over
  • Post traumatic stress disorder caused by a dog attack

Certain damages can be pursued in these cases as well. A dog bite lawsuit may attempt to recover damages for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Wrongful death
  • Reconstructive or plastic surgery
  • Lost wages or lost earning capacity
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Pain and suffering

Possible Defenses for Owners

Dog owners can use several defenses in court. Primarily, if they show the victim was trespassing or provoked the dog, they may win the case.

Duluth Dog Bite Lawyer

Conversely, keep in mind that your lawsuit against a dog owner will not succeed if these circumstances surround the attack.

You only have two years from the date of the dog bite incident to file a lawsuit, so make sure to act quickly if this happens to you.


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.