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When Isn’t a Dog Owner Considered Negligent in Dog Bite Cases?

If you or someone you know has ever been attacked by a dog and taken the case to court, you will know that Minnesota leans very favorably in the direction of the victim in these cases. Dog owners will typically have to work very hard in order to escape liability. That being said, it isn’t impossible, and ignoring the possibility that the owner’s defense could result in no compensation for your dog bite-related injuries. This is why before your case gets underway, you should know the potential circumstances that can result in removing a dog owner of liability.

Provocation

This is one of the more tricky areas of dog bite law. Provocation can take many forms under the dog bite law and it will often need to be strongly debated. It is made even more complicated because we do not fully understand dog behavior. What can set one dog off may not be the same for another, but only the courts can truly decide if it can be considered provocation. That being said, there are few very obvious actions of provocation that you can be sure the dog owner’s lawyer will use if present in your case. These actions include:

  • Hitting or otherwise injuring a dog
  • Intentionally irritating a dog such as tugging on tail or ears
  • Sneaking up or surprising a dog
  • Acting suddenly on a mother dog with puppies

Outside of purposefully physically injuring a dog, the other areas of provocation get progressively more difficult to argue for the defendant. The courts hold the dog owner liable in many cases of provocation, especially when they are present when the incident occurred. It is believed that the dog owner should recognize signs of aggression and should have taken action to prevent the incident.

Trespassing

If you were not lawfully on private property when the dog bite incident occurred, you will find that your injury case may be stacked against you. Unlike provocation, the trespassing defense employed by the defendant will be much more effective if valid. If you were wandering around on someone else’s property or attempting to commit a burglary, if their dog attacked you, there would be little you could do to receive compensation from that incident.

However, because the trespassing defense is one of the few effective defenses in a dog bite case, the dog owner may try to stretch what is considered trespassing. For example, they might try to argue that your hand was hanging over their fence, and thus you were technically trespassing when their dog leapt up and bit it. Minnesota doesn’t recognize incidents like this. The same will go for if the person was lawfully invited over to the property, but in areas of the property that the owner will claim they were not invited to. Such as inviting them to the house, but not stating they could go into the backyard.

Seeking Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

While it is true that Minnesota courts will always lean more in favor of the victim in dog bite cases and the dog owners only have a small handful of defensive strategies that they can employ, you should not take these cases lightly. You will still need the help of a skilled attorney that will make sure that if you were bitten by a dog, you get the compensation you need to cover any injuries that you sustained.

If you were bitten by a dog in the St. Paul area and need representation, contact us today. The Law office of Swor & Gatto will go over all the specifics of your unique case to make sure you get the best possible result in terms of justice and compensation.