What Happens Legally If A Dog Bites Me?
If a dog has attacked you, you know the pain and fear that can remain, long after the wounds have healed. In Minnesota, dog bite victims are protected by the Minnesota dog bite law. Because these laws vary from state to state, it’s essential to know just what the law allows and requires you to do.
Deadlines for Filing a Lawsuit
Minnesota’s statute of limitations in the Minnesota civil court system, states that you must file your lawsuit file within two years of the date of your injury.
Minnesota’s Dog Bite Law
Minnesota’s dog bite law can be found in Section 347.22 of the Minnesota Statutes. It says that an injured person can hold a dog owner liable for injuries caused by the dog if all the following are true:
- The person was lawfully in the place where the dog bit him or her, whether on public property or legally on private property
- The person was “acting peaceably”
- The person did not provoke the dog
Minnesota dog bite law applies not only to the owner of the attacking dog but also to any person who harbors or keeps the dog. Whoever keeps or harbors the dog is subject to liability, and the dog’s owner is always primarily liable.
Minnesota has a “strict liability” rule for dog bites. This means that even if the owner didn’t know that the dog would act aggressively, attack, or bite, the dog owner can be held liable for injuries as long as the requirements in the statute are met. States that don’t follow the strict liability rule for dog bites, typically follow a “one bite” rule. This rule requires that liability can be imposed if the owner knows or has reason to know the dog is dangerous. It’s important to remember is that Minnesota does not follow the “one bite” rule.
The injured person doesn’t have to show that the dog owner was negligent. Negligence is beside the point, and past good behavior of the dog is irrelevant.
What injuries does the Minnesota dog bite law cover?
The dog bite law covers any damages caused when a dog attacks or injures someone. These injuries include:
- Bite injuries
- Injuries related to jumping on a person
- Injuries caused by knocking someone down
- PTSD caused by the attack
Three Potential Defenses to a Minnesota Dog Bite Claim
Provocation is one potential defense for a dog owner facing a lawsuit under Minnesota’s dog bite law. Minnesota’s dog bite statute states that the injured person must be injured “without provocation.” If the injured person provoked the dog (for example, by hitting the dog with a stick), the owner could argue that the injured person provoked the dog and therefore, should receive no damages.
The statute also says that the injured person must be in the place where he or she was injured, “lawfully.” This includes public places, like sidewalks and parks, or in a private place, such as their property or on someone else’s property as a guest. But, if the injured person was trespassing, the dog’s owner may not be liable for the injuries caused by the dog.
Assumption of the risk is another defense under the statute—someone who voluntarily accepts temporary responsibility for the care of a dog and exhibits essential attributes of ownership. One example is that of a dog groomer. They assume the risk and, therefore, can make no injury claim if they are bitten while grooming the dog.
While negligence on the part of the owner is not a requirement to recover damages, Minnesota does also permit a dog bite victim to recover compensation on the grounds of negligence, by proving the dog owner did not use reasonable care in controlling the dog. Negligence is the lack of the kind of care a reasonably prudent and careful person would exercise. To recover compensation on the grounds of negligence in Minnesota, the victim must prove the elements of the one-bite rule. See Strict Liability, above.
If you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog in Minnesota, it’s vital to protect your rights. White & Associates can help you understand what they are and help you receive any compensation you deserve under the law. Contact us today to find out how.