Personal liability in a dog-bite incident
If your dog bites someone, you may be legally responsible for his or her injuries, depending on the circumstances of the incident. Although some states do not hold the dog owner responsible if the animal has never been aggressive, Minnesota requires owners to pay medical bills and other costs in most cases.
Explore your potential legal liability for a dog bite, and take steps to avoid this unwanted situation.
Minnesota dog bite statute
State law holds a dog owner liable for an attack against a human, provided that the dog was not provoked and the person was behaving peacefully at the time of the attack. The incident does not have to happen in public. An invited guest or a person performing a service at your home, such as a mail carrier or meter reader, can sue if bitten by your dog. If a dog sitter was walking the dog when the attack occurred, he or she may also share responsibility.
Exceptions to dog bite liability
If the person trespassed on your property at the time of the attack, the law will not require you to cover the costs of a dog bite injury. If the person provoked the dog before the attack, your liability is also in question. However, the judge will determine which actions specifically constitute provocation of the animal.
Types of dog bite damages
Minnesota allows victims of a dog bite to collect legal compensation for:
- Medical bills, including both emergency and follow-up treatments as well as plastic and reconstructive surgery
- Lost current and future earning capacity
- Lost wages
- Therapy for emotional trauma caused by the attack
- Decreased quality of life
- Pain and suffering
Dog owners in Minnesota must ensure that their pets remain under control in public as well as in the home when visitors are present. Keep your dog on a leash in public, and ask strangers not to pet your dog if you are unsure whether the animal will respond aggressively.