Yes. You can sue a neighbor for a dog bite. Dog bite laws are determined by the state, and Minnesota has one of the most victim-friendly laws in the U.S.
What is Minnesota law?
The Minnesota statute 347.22 reads, “If a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner of the dog is liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained. The term “owner” includes any person harboring or keeping a dog but the owner shall be primarily liable. The term “dog” includes both male and female of the canine species.”
There are two types of dog bite laws “strict liability” and “one-bite”. Minnesota is a strict liability state, meaning the owner of the dog is liable for any injury regardless of whether or not they could have taken any action to prevent the event, or known the dog to be aggressive. The state does not recognize a “one bite” tolerance, meaning that the owner does not need to have knowledge that the dog might act aggressively to be held liable.
What does the law mean?
The Minnesota statute indicates that a dog owner can be held liable for injuries, bites or other bodily damage caused by the dog, if three requirements are met:
- The injured was legally allowed to be in the location where the incident occurred, i.e. not trespassing.
- They were “acting peacefully”, not participating in roughhousing or dog-fighting (which is a felony in all states).
- They did not provoke the dog, meaning they did not bait or tease the dog in a way that would invoke an aggressive response from the animal.
Dog attack victims can incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses as well as severe emotional trauma.
Even more disturbing is the fact that the most severe dog attack injuries occur in children ages 5-9, according to the CDC they represent 87% of all dog attack fatalities.
No matter how familiar the child may be with the dog, they must always be supervised.
Minnesota law is victim friendly, according to the statute “owner” describes both the legal owner of the attacking dog, and also whomever is keeping or harboring the dog at the time of the attack. Additionally, the law covers injuries caused by the dog, not just a bite, other injuries could include a fall if the dog were to jump up knocking a person over, or a crash if the dog veers into the path of a bicycle.
How much is my dog bite case worth?
People may feel awkward about dog bite lawsuits because a majority of the time the dog is owned by the victim’s family or friend, but that is not a reason to not seek legal recourse.
When a lawsuit is filed and the defendant has either home insurance or renter’s insurance the insurance company is generally responsible for the paying the damages.
However, there is not a law in Minnesota that requires that dog owners are insured. Therefore, the amount of compensation you can receive in a lawsuit varies. It is important to talk to a lawyer before speaking with insurance agents or signing any paperwork.
Dog bite law is determined at the state level therefore, it is important to work with a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours. Attorney Brendan Flaherty has won thousands of dollars for Minnesota dog bite victims. He is available for a FREE consultation or by phone at 1-888-877-8900.
Our law firm family loves well behaved dogs and most of our attorneys own at least one.