Dog bites injuries are an often serious concern that leads to expensive lawsuits. In Minnesota, there are a variety of laws that dictate who is at fault in these situations. Fault must be proven by either side to ensure that they win.
The following information is crucial for anyone to know in a dog bite injury case, whether they are the owner of the dog or the person bitten. Understanding these rules and laws will help you create a better case and make it more likely that you win.
What Does The Law Say About Dog Bite Injuries?
Dog bite injury laws will vary on a state-by-state basis. Some are more favorable to the victim, while others prefer the owner and protecting the rights of the dog. Minnesota is one state that sides very firmly with the injured person.
Its law on dog bite injuries law (Minnesota Statute 347.22) had this to say about situations in which the owner was liable:
“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 last sentence is particularly important to focus on here. If a dog is being walked by a person who doesn’t technically own the dog (such as a friend or a family member of the owner), and they are incapable of preventing the dog from attacking a person who is not provoking it (will be discussed in more depth later), then the true owner of the dog is liable for the injury.
The reasons for this are simple. The owner entrusted the person with the dog and, as a result, that person acts as an extension of the owner’s liability. When a dog attacks a person without provocation in Minnesota and the owner or a person handling the dog can’t prevent it, they are liable.
How Is Provocation Managed In Minnesota?
One of the only defenses that a dog owner can make in these cases in Minnesota is that the dog was provoked by the person who it bit. Provocation is the act of compelling the dog to bite the person.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is hurting the dog or attacking it. It simply means that they behave in a way that causes the dog to bite in self-defense.
For example, if a person handles a dog with an injury in such a way that it feels pain and reacts instinctively, the person bitten may be at fault. There a few ways this can be proven.
The first is that the person knew that the dog suffered from pain and that they acted in an inappropriate way anyway. This is especially true if the owner has warned that person of the dog’s injury in the past and the dog has acted defensively (but not bitten anyone) as a result.
Other instances in which a dog bite may be excused is if the dog was defending itself from deliberate injury (such as if someone was hitting it as a correction measure), if someone deliberately put the dog at risk (like if a person who tried to sit on the dog), or if it can be shown that the person’s “accidental” mishandling was deliberate.
The latter instance is difficult to prove, as it typically requires a person secretly getting revenge on the dog or the owner of the dog by handling them in a way that causes pain.
Generally, this requires proving that the person was warned multiple times about the dog’s pain, and yet refused to pay attention to the warnings or deliberately ignored them for whatever reason.
Can Negligence Be A Deciding Factor?
Negligence is absolutely a factor in these cases. If it can be proven by either side, their chances of winning is increased. As Minnesota law is on the side of the bite victim, it’s easier to prove negligence of the owner rather than the victim.
For example, if the dog owner puts their dog in a backyard without a fence, and the dog runs out and bites somebody, the owner behaved in a negligent manner. The owner can’t try to claim that the dog “normally” behaves when in the backyard. Laws on controlling a dog are strict in Minnesota, requiring their movement is restricted when outside, including being leashed or put behind a fence.
How To Act During A Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit
Bog bite injury cases can tear a family, friendship, or even a neighborhood apart. It is important to approach them with respect and to avoid throwing around unnecessary allegations and accusations. This will only make the case more difficult for both sides.
Typically, you should gather evidence long before the case begins. This includes eye-witness testimony, the police report, and medical investigations that detail the extent of the injury. In this way, the case is more air-tight. Remember that civil cases don’t have to be decided by a unanimous decision, but by a simple majority.
Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you know is involved in one of these cases, please don’t hesitate to contact us right away. We can help you fully understand your rights in these difficult cases and help make your case more effective and successful.