Unfortunately, dog bites are more common than many think in the U.S. and Minnesota. According to the CDC, a dog bite occurs every 75 seconds in the U.S. This equates to millions of dog bite incidents yearly.
Unexpected dog attacks and bites lead to physical pain, emotional trauma, and mounting medical bills. Victims must know their legal rights in these situations.
If you or a loved one has been bit or attacked by a dog, a knowledgeable dog bite attorney can guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim. Our experienced lawyers at Nelson Personal Injury can help you understand the law and your rights.
Understanding Minnesota’s Dog Bite Law
Animal attack legislation in Minnesota was created to help protect residents from unruly and dangerous pets. Through the years, the statute has evolved, reflecting a commitment to ensuring victims of dog attacks have a clear path to justice and compensation.
One of the cornerstone principles of Minnesota’s dog bite law is that of “strict liability.” This means that a dog owner is typically held responsible for any harm their dog causes, regardless of whether the owner is aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
This means there is no “free pass” for a dog’s first aggressive act. If a dog harms someone, the owner is usually liable. However, there are certain defenses that a dog owner can raise that may alleviate their liability. This makes it all the more important for victims to consult with a dog bite attorney when considering a personal injury claim.
An essential aspect of the statute is the requirement that the bite or attack be “without provocation.”. For a victim to be able to make a successful claim, the dog bite or attack must have occurred without provocation. The Minnesota Supreme Court has stated that provocation under the statute occurs when a person voluntarily and unnecessarily provokes a dog in a manner that invites a dog attack. It is not necessary that the person intend to provoke the dog. Rather, provocation involves voluntary conduct that exposes the person to a risk of harm from the dog, where the person had knowledge of the risk at the time of the incident. This ensures that individuals cannot recover if their actions led to the attack or bite.
While Minnesota’s strict liability dog bite law provides comprehensive protection for victims, dog owners can also raise a defense of trespassing. If a victim is in a location where they are not legally allowed to be and are bit by a dog, they may not be afforded protection under the statute, and thus may not be eligible to make a claim.
Common Questions After a Dog Bite in Minnesota Answered
After a dog bite or attack incident, you likely have many questions. Our experienced dog bite attorneys can discuss your claim and help you pursue a claim to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Here, we have answered some of the most common questions that victims have after they have been attacked or bit by a dog.
Question 1: Do I have a legal claim?
Several factors come into play to determine the viability of a dog bite claim. First, were you in a place you were legally allowed to be at the time of the bite, and was the attack “unprovoked?” Second, did you sustain damages. Damages can be in the form of past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain, suffering, emotional distress, and disfigurement. Finally, from a practical standpoint, whether there is applicable homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage that will provide coverage for your injuries.
Question 2: Who is responsible for my medical bills?
There are typical priorities as to how your medical bills will get paid after a dog bite. The first priority for bills to get paid is through the “medical pay coverage” (sometimes known as “med pay”) on any applicable homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Once the med pay coverage amount has been exhausted, or if there is no med pay coverage, the next priority is for your bills to go to your health insurance. You may have co-pays and deductibles as part of your health insurance policy, and you will be responsible for making payment on those. If you do not have health insurance, you will be responsible for making payment towards the bills. However, as part of a settlement, the dog owner’s insurance company will reimburse you for any out of pocket payments that you may have made towards your bills.
Question 3: What if the dog didn’t bite me but caused injury in another way?
Minnesota’s dog bite law isn’t limited to just bites. If a dog causes harm in another manner, such as knocking someone over or causing a cyclist to crash, the victim can still file a personal injury claim. It’s crucial to recognize that any injuries caused by a dog may be grounds for pursuing a personal injury claim to recover your damages.
Question 4: How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Time is of the essence. Minnesota has a specific statute of limitations for dog bite claims. This means there’s a limited timeframe within which victims can either settle their claim or start a lawsuit. Which limitations period applies will depend on the specific facts of your case, so acting promptly and seeking legal advice early on can be critical to preserving your rights.
Question 5: Can I still be compensated if the dog has never been aggressive?
Yes, you can. Minnesota doesn’t follow the “one-bite rule.” Even if the dog has never shown aggression, the owner can still be held liable for injuries the dog causes. The state emphasizes the protection of victims over the dog’s prior behavior.
Question 6: What kind of damages can I recover?
Victims of dog attacks can claim various types of damages as a result of their injuries, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement, lost wages, and more.
Question 7: How can a lawyer help me with my dog bite claim?
A skilled Minnesota dog bite attorney is invaluable in protecting your legal rights after a dog attack or injury. They can gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. Furthermore, an attorney with expertise in Minnesota’s dog bite laws will be best positioned to maximize your compensation and guide you through the complexities of the legal process.
Understanding Your Rights After a Dog Bite in Minnesota
In the aftermath of a dog bite incident in Minnesota, staying informed and understanding your rights is essential to maximizing your recovery. Understanding the intricacies of the state’s dog bite law helps victims to seek the justice they deserve.
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we understand the physical and emotional impact a dog bite injury can have. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.