Minnesota Dog Bites: Who Is Responsible?

There are few things scarier than being attacked by a dog, and dog bites can be far more severe than many expect. Dog bites can cause lasting physical injuries and mental distress for victims, which is why Minnesota has specific laws concerning them.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you should know what your options are. Read on to learn all you need to know, including who is responsible for your injury.

Dog Bite Law in Minnesota

Under Minnesota law, the owner of the dog can be held responsible for injuries sustained through a dog bite if these things are true:

  • The victim was acting in a peaceable manner
  • The dog wasn’t provoked by the victim
  • The victim was lawfully in the area where the dog caused their injuries, whether it occurred on public or private property

The law concerning dog bite liability in Minnesota applies to the owner of the dog who bit the victim or whoever keeps or harbors the dog. While that typically makes the owner the responsible party, anyone keeping a dog for someone can also be held accountable.

What Is Strict Liability?

In Minnesota, there is something called strict liability that applies to dog bites. This means the owner can be liable for the dog bite even if they didn’t know their dog would bite, attack, or act aggressively toward another person. They can then be held liable for any injuries that occur as long as the other statutes governing dog bites are met.

In states where strict liability doesn’t apply to dog bites, there is often a one bite rule that won’t hold an owner liable for a dog bite unless they were aware their dog could attack another person because they’d done it previously – they had one bite prior to the incident. Minnesota does not follow this rule.

In Minnesota, the injured party doesn’t have to show the dog owner was negligent. The law considers negligence to be beside the point, and any past behavior of the dog, even dogs that were previously very good, doesn’t come into play in these cases.

What Types of Injuries Are Covered by the Law?

In Minnesota, dog bite injuries cover all cases where dogs attack or injure someone, including:

  • Injuries sustained from the dog jumping on the victim
  • Injuries sustained by the dog knocking the victim down
  • Any Post-Traumatic Stress caused by the dog attack

As mentioned, negligence doesn’t apply to an attempt to cover damages, but you can still recover damages based on negligence with the help of your attorney. You must prove the same elements that would exist in a “one-bite rule” state.

When Do You Have to File a Suit?

Duluth Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

The statute of limitations on dog bite cases is two years from the day you were injured. If you file outside that time frame, your case will not move forward. That’s why timing is important in these cases and you should seek legal help as soon as possible.


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.