Dog attacks are brutal. They can often result in muscle damage, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and emotional damage that never goes away. But, there are more to dog attacks than just bites and Minnesota law recognizes that.
Minnesota law authorizes civil suits against the owner of any dog that causes an injury to another person. For the sake of the discussion, here is the entire law:
“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.” Minn. Stat. § 347.22 Damages, Owner Liable.
As you’ll notice, the phrase “dog bite” doesn’t appear in this law. That means you can file suit if the dog jumps on you and breaks a bone. It also means you can file suit if you are standing in a park and a dog trips you while it’s trying to catch a Frisbee. And, Minnesota Courts have even said that if a dog is running at you and you injure yourself running away, the owner of that dog owes you the full cost of your injuries and could be liable for any pain and suffering you incurred.
However, there are two instances where the owner won’t be liable to you for any injuries you sustain. First, is if you provoke the dog. For example, if you are poking the dog with a stick and it decides to bite you, you are much less likely to win a lawsuit. Secondly, if you enter someone’s property illegally (i.e. there is a no trespassing sign) and a guard dog attacks you, the jury may find you at fault instead of the dog owner.
Written by Matt Little and Kevin Sieben.