As a dog owner, you must understand Minnesota’s statute on dog bites to ensure that you’re taking all the necessary precautions to prevent your dog from biting someone. It’s also important for those who have been injured from a dog bite to understand their legal rights.
In Minnesota, a dog owner is responsible for any damages, including injuries, their dog causes to a person or property.
Minnesota Statues Regarding Dog Bites
In Minnesota, the law regarding liability for dog bites goes as follows:
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.
Unlike other states, Minnesota doesn’t have a “one-bite” rule, which means that if a dog has previously bitten someone or acted aggressively, the owner is then liable for any future incidents. Instead, the law sides firmly with the injured party, regardless of whether this was a pet’s first offense.
Even if a person was not bitten but were knocked down or fell as the result of a pet’s actions and sustained an injured, the pet owner may still be held responsible for all injuries.
What Is Considered a Dog Bite?
There are different levels of dog bites, and they can play out differently in a lawsuit depending on the severity of the injury. In general, there are six types of dog bites:
- Level 1: A dog snaps at a person but does not make contact with their skin.
- Level 2: A dog makes contact with the skin but does not break it.
- Level 3: A dog bites and breaks the skin, but the wound is relatively minor.
- Level 4: A dog bites and causes a severe injury, such as deep puncture wounds, bone fractures, or permanent scarring.
- Level 5: Multiple dog bites that cause severe injury.
- Level 6: A dog attack results in death.
In a lawsuit, the severity of the injury will play a significant role in determining the compensation the victim may receive.
What Should I Do If I Get Bit?
If you’re bitten by a dog, try to get to safe area to avoid another attack. Next, you’ll need to do the following:
- Seek medical attention if necessary.
- Once your injuries have been treated, you should report the incident to animal control in your area. They can help determine if the dog has a history of aggression and if the owner has violated any laws or regulations.
- You should also gather as much information as possible, such as the name and contact information of the dog’s owner, any witnesses to the incident, and photos of your injuries.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options and pursue a dog bite lawsuit if necessary.
How to Avoid Getting Bit
If you’re a dog person, it might feel natural for you to get excited when you see an approaching dog. However, always use caution before interacting with an animal and make sure to teach your children the same so they can avoid dog bites, too.
- Step 1: Always ask for permission before approaching a dog. If the owner says no, respect their wishes and do not approach the dog.
- Step 2: Approach the dog calmly and slowly, avoiding sudden movements or loud noises that could spook the dog.
- Step 3: Allow the dog to sniff you first before petting it. This is their way of getting to know you and feel comfortable around you.
- Step 4: Avoid making direct eye contact with the dog as this could be interpreted as a threat. Instead, look away and speak to the dog in a calm and soothing voice.
- Step 5: Avoid touching the dog’s face, head, or tail, as these are sensitive areas that could trigger a defensive reaction. Instead, pet the dog gently on its back or chest.
- Step 6: If a dog seems aggressive or is growling, barking, or showing its teeth, do not approach it. Instead, back away slowly and avoid making eye contact.
- Step 7: Teach children to be respectful of dogs and not to approach them without adult supervision. Children should also be taught to avoid running or screaming around dogs, as this could trigger their prey drive or protective instincts.
Unfortunately, dog bites or attack can happen when you had no intention of approaching a dog. If a dog attacks you, it’s important to try and stay calm, even though it may be difficult. Do not run away or make loud noises, as this will likely provoke the dog further. Instead, try to put an object between you and the dog, such as a bag or a stick, to use as a barrier.
If the dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and protect your head and neck with your hands and arms. Once the dog has stopped attacking, seek medical attention immediately and report the incident to the appropriate authorities.