MINNEAPOLIS PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS: WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS AFTER A DOG BITE INJURY?
Do you have to prove a dog owner was negligent if that dog bites or attacks and injures you?
The answer is no, you do not have to prove the dog owner was negligent. Under Minnesota law, dog owners are held strictly liable for attacks or injuries caused by their dogs. This is under Minn. Stat. § 347.22., which reads in part:
“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.”
Strict liability means that nobody has to actually prove the owner was negligent in order to make a recovery if they are injured by a dog bite; the person only needs to prove they were injured from a dog bite and show (1) they did not provoke the dog and (2) they were acting peacefully in a lawful place.
Provocation is a defense to liability under the dog-bite statute. In this context, provocation under the statute means “voluntarily and unnecessarily provok[ing] a dog in a manner that invites a dog attack[.]” Engquist v. Loyas, 803 N.W.2d 400, 406 (Minn. 2011).
This means that the dog bite victim must not have provoked the dog and the dog bite victim must have been in a place where the victim “may lawfully be.” The requirement that victims must be in a place they “may lawfully be” is satisfied so as long as they are not trespassers. Matson v. Kivimaki, 200 N.W.2d 164, 168 (1972). Unless a sign is posted or some other sort of warning is given to a specific person, a person is not trespassing by merely entering a property owner’s driveway for the purpose of discussing or conducting business.
In order for a person to be liable for a dog attack under Minnesota’s dog-bite statute, that person needs to be an owner of the dog. Minn. Stat. § 347.22. A person who temporarily harbors a dog is an owner within the meaning of the statute. See Anderson v. Christopherson, 816 N.W.2d 626, 632 (Minn. 2012). The Minnesota Supreme Court explained that “[a] person ‘harboring’ a dog is a person who affords lodging, shelters, or gives refuge to a dog for a limited purpose or time.” Id. This means that if a dog bites someone, the dog’s owner, harborer, or even keeper, can each be held strictly liable for the injuries to the dog bite:
Owner of a dog
The term “owner” includes any person harboring or keeping a dog but the owner shall be primarily liable.
Harborer of a dog
A person “harbors” a dog if that person provides lodging, shelter, or provides a place for the dog to stay for a limited purpose or time.
Keeper of a dog
A person is a “keeper” of a dog if that person acts as if he or she is the owner of the dog, but without legally owning the dog.
The attorneys at Schmidt and Salita Law Team have significant experience representing individuals injured as the result of dog bites. Hiring an attorney for a dog bite injury in Minnesota means that you retain an attorney who works on a contingent fee to make a recovery. You want to be confident in the attorney you hire and it is important to obtain an attorney experienced in handling both dog bite cases and the defenses often raised.
PERSONAL INJURY LEGAL SERVICES WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH!
A Schmidt Salita Dog Bite Lawyer will come to your home, or the hospital, for your initial visit. The Schmidt Salita Law Team strives to provide personal injury legal services with a personal touch to help the victims of personal injury through a very difficult time in their lives.