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  • Writer's pictureZachary Port

Injuries from Animal Attacks and Your Legal Options in Minnesota

Being bitten or injured by an animal can be a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. In Minnesota, the law provides specific protections and legal recourse for victims of animal attacks, particularly those involving pets. Understanding your rights and the measures you can take to prevent such incidents is crucial.


Understanding Minnesota's Strict Liability in Animal Attacks

In Minnesota, the law imposes "strict liability" on the owners of dogs and other pets. This legal concept is critical for victims because it allows them to recover damages without the need to prove that the pet owner knew their animal was dangerous or acted negligently. This rule is part of what are commonly referred to as "dog-bite laws."


If your pet injures someone, you are usually responsible for any harm caused. This includes situations where your pet knocks someone over or bites them, even if someone else was looking after your pet at the time. For example, if your dog bites someone while a pet sitter is walking it, you are still liable for any injuries.


However, there is an exception to this rule. If the person injured was taking care of the pet, like a pet sitter or groomer, then the usual rules might not apply. This is because these individuals are considered to have accepted the risks associated with handling pets. In these cases, the injured person would have to prove negligence, meaning they would need to show that the caretaker was careless, to claim any damages.


This law ensures that pet owners are held accountable for their pets' actions, but it also recognizes that professional caretakers understand and accept the risks of their job.



Defenses Under Minnesota Law

While Minnesota's laws strongly favor the victims of dog bites, there are specific defenses available to dog owners. Under state law, a dog owner can only be held legally responsible for injuries if the injured person:

  • Was lawfully in the place where the attack occurred,

  • Was acting peaceably, and

  • Did not provoke the dog.


These conditions are designed to protect owners from liability in situations where the person bitten was trespassing, acting aggressively, or provoked the dog into attacking.


Legal Recourse and Preventative Measures


Immediate Steps After an Animal Attack:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Always prioritize your health. Animal bites can lead to serious infections and should be treated immediately.

  2. Report the Incident: Report the bite to local animal control or law enforcement. This not only helps in documenting the incident for legal purposes but also ensures that the animal is checked for rabies and other diseases.

  3. Gather Evidence: Collect names and contact information of witnesses, and take photos of your injuries and the location where the incident occurred.

  4. Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer: Contact a lawyer who specializes in animal attack cases to discuss your legal options. They can help navigate the complexities of your case and ensure you receive fair compensation.


Preventative Measures to Avoid Animal Attacks:

  • Be Cautious Around Unknown Animals: Always ask an owner's permission before approaching or petting an animal.

  • Teach Children How to Safely Interact with Animals: Children are often victims of animal attacks because they may not recognize the signs of distress or aggression in animals.

  • Do Not Encourage Aggressive Play: Playing roughly with dogs can sometimes lead to aggressive behaviors.


Conclusion

Victims of animal attacks in Minnesota have substantial legal protections under the strict liability statute, ensuring they can seek damages for their injuries. However, understanding when and how these laws apply is crucial. If you or someone you know has been injured by an animal, consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can provide clarity and guidance on the best course of action.

Remember, prevention is just as important as understanding your legal rights. Taking steps to minimize risk and educate yourself and others about safe interactions with animals can help prevent injuries and reduce the likelihood of needing legal recourse. For more detailed guidance and support, reaching out to a lawyer like those at Betz + Port experienced in handling dog bite cases is advisable.


Lawyer helping client after dog bite with his case

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