What Compensation Can I Get for a Dog Bite or Attack in Minnesota?
Brendan Flaherty is our lead lawyer for these cases. You can contact him at 612-338-0202.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, the owner and any additional responsible party should be held accountable. Your compensation may include amounts for hospital and other medical bills, future medical treatments, psychological counseling, loss of earnings, pain and suffering and disfigurement. Your payout will generally come from the dog owner’s home owner’s insurance.
Let’s assume you were lawfully on the property when the attack occurred. In Minnesota, you are entitled to receive compensation if you were attacked, although the rules and circumstances for such recovery may differ depending on where you file your lawsuit. Examples include violations of leash laws, harboring an animal with dangerous propensities, failure to maintain fences and enclosures, etc.
What if it is a “First Offense”?
In Minnesota, you can also recover compensation if it is a “first offense.” The “one bite” rule no longer applies. This rule allowed a dog one act of aggression before its owner became responsible for any injuries.
You may also be able to sue people who don’t own the animal but are still responsible for the attack. For instance, a daycare center might be liable if staff allowed someone with an aggressive one onto the property, or a landlord might be liable if he or she knew that a tenant had a dangerous one.
A dogs tendency to bite is based on factors such as its early experiences, socialization and the victim’s behavior, as well as heredity. There are situations where the owner has trained it in such a way as to make it particularly dangerous. In such cases, the victim may make a claim for punitive damages, an amount meant to punish and/or deter behavior.
There are 300,000 bites per year that require medical treatment, and most of the victims are children (60%). Unfortunately, some of the injuries can be quite severe and can include:
There are about 18 deaths per year. In these cases, the family can file a wrongful death suit against the owner.
What Steps Should I Take to Protect My Rights after a Dog Attack?
Everything happens so fast in these situations. Here is a list of steps you need to take to protect your rights.
Identify the animal that bit you. If it was not tested for rabies, you may have to have some very painful rabies shots.
Get the license number.
Get the name, address and phone number of the owner and any witnesses.
See a medical professional.
Save all your records, including your insurance information. You will need them to make your claim.
Take photographs of the wounds and bloody clothes, if possible. You will need to prove that you were bitten.
Be careful as you talk to other people about your situation. Anything you say to insurance company representatives or investigators could make it harder for you to settle your claim.
Report the incident to the police. The police will investigate and make a report, which may help establish what happened.
Do not prepare any reports for insurance companies, owners or landlords. They may be looking for ways to avoid liability or reduce your claim.
Do not sign anything, particularly some kind of release form, without talking to a lawyer first.
If you were bitten at Petsmart, you may have a claim against the company, so do not talk to employees about your case.
What if I Have an Infection?
Because dog bites can cause infections that can get into the blood (sepsis) and cause death, you need to immediately go to the doctor if the dog bite gets infected. Attorney Brendan Flaherty represented a young man who almost died from an infected dog bite. He was a contractor working in a woman’s house. As he knelt down to adjust a furnace valve, the home owner’s small terrier nipped him right between the thumb and index finger. The bite caused only a little blood from two small but deep puncture wounds. The guy did not think anything of it and did not want to go to the doctor because he did not have health insurance. About three days later, a severe infection developed, he became delirious and was lucky to make it to the hospital. He nearly lost his hand.
Attorney Brendan Flaherty, our lead lawyer for these cases, has won numerous lawsuits involving bites to the face, arm, leg and hand. Many of our clients have been children and their families. Read Brendan’s “Q and A” article.
Our law firm helps dog bit victims throughout Minnesota: Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Paul, Duluth, St. Cloud, Albert Lea, Anoka, Apple Valley, Alexandria, Austin, Baudette, Bemidji, Blaine, Brainerd, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Detroit Lakes, Eagan, East Grand Forks, Eden Prairie, Elk River, Fergus Falls, Forest Lake, Golden Valley, Lanesboro, Lino Lakes, Little Canada, Mahnomen, Mankato, Maple Grove, Mounds View, New Ulm, Northfield, Roseau, Roseville, Shakopee, Shoreview, Stillwater, Thief River Falls, Wayzata, White Bear Lake, Woodbury.