Are you a dog bite injury victim? According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, around 4.5 million people are victims of dog bites each year; one in five requires medical attention. In 2016, dog bites and related injuries accounted for over 30 percent of all homeowners insurance liability claims. The Insurance Information Institute reports the annual payout for dog bite injuries is around $600 million. Fortunately, laws exist to protect your rights, and those of your children, whether a dog attacks on or off of your property. Additionally, dog owners bear responsibilities when their dogs cause injuries. However, to protect your rights, there are certain actions you need to take immediately whenever you or your loved one is attacked or bitten by a dog.
1. Seek Prompt Medical Attention for All Dog Bites
According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 50 percent of dog bites will introduce bacteria, like staph and strep as well as Pasteurella, and capnocytophaga. What’s more, unvaccinated dogs can potentially carry rabies. So, even if the external wounds seem minor, it is important to have them evaluated by a trained healthcare provider within eight hours as waiting longer increases your risk for infection.
2. Identify the Dog and its Owner
It is important to identify the animal that bit you as well as its owner —because this will determine whether treatment for rabies is needed. It is also important to identify the homeowner’s carrier for the dog owner as soon as possible. Rabies treatment is painful, expensive, and avoidable if the dog is up to date on vaccinations. And remember, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the animal’s owner, which will help pay medical bills, recover lost wages, or pay for future medical treatment. Consequently, if you were attacked by a stray dog, your city or jurisdiction may be liable for these costs.
3. Report All Dog Bites to the Authorities
Even if a report was taken by your healthcare provider, emergency room staff, or hospital, it is important to alert appropriate authorities. Hospital reporting is often for reasons other than animal control, safety, and enforcement. Contact your local police department to initiate reporting.
4. Take Pictures of the Scene and Dog Bite Injuries
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words! Fortunately, these days most of us have a camera handy at all times. If possible, take pictures at the scene. If it is safe to do so, take pictures of the dog, its surroundings, your wounds, and bloody clothing. You can also document your injuries later at the hospital or emergency department, as well as photos of any subsequent bruising.
5. Get Information From Witnesses
Collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses. If there are none present, you may return to the scene later, asking residents of nearby homes or businesses if they witnessed the attack.
6. Seek Prompt Legal Advice
If you are to have a successful claim, seeking timely legal counsel is critical. Not only can important facts be forgotten, but often insurance companies and other potentially liable parties move quickly to achieve a settlement that best benefits themselves and not you as the injured party.
Minnesota’s Dog Bite Laws
It’s important to know the laws that pertain to your situation. In Minnesota, dog bites are addressed at the state level as well as in various city statutes. Section 347.22 of the Minnesota Statutes states that an injured person may be able to hold a dog owner liable for their injuries if their case meets the following criteria:
- You were lawfully in the place where you were attacked. This can mean that you were on public property or that you were on private property with permission.
- You were “acting peaceably.” This means you were not doing anything that could be deemed to have provoked the animal.
The dog bite law holds “dog owners” responsible when a dog they own or a dog in their care attacks and injures another person. Injuries can include both dog bite and any other injuries caused by the incidence. This can include injuries caused by a dog jumping you and knocking you down. It may also cover certain and lasting psychological duress. It is important to note that you don’t have to prove that the dog-related injury was the result of the owner or handler’s negligence.
Potential Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim in Minnesota
A dog owner or handler facing a lawsuit under Minnesota’s dog bite statute can claim two defenses: provocation and trespassing.
Minnesota’s dog bite law states that you had to have sustained the injury “without provocation” in order to hold the dog’s owner or handler liable. If it can be proven that you provoked the dog in any way, the owner or handler might NOT be held responsible for injuries or other damages.
The law also states that you have to be “lawfully” in the place where the attack occurred. This may be a public place, like on the sidewalk, or lawfully in a private place, like on his or her own property or as an invited guest on someone else’s property, or there as a result of your duties as an agent of the government or other third-party such as delivering mail, serving papers, or delivering a package.
Contact A Duluth Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today!
According to studies on animal behavior, provocation can be defined as any action, by you, that motivates the animal to engage in a response that is different from the activity it was engaged in prior to your action. This means, your actions must immediately cause a change in the dog’s behavior. A dog’s motivational state is determined by factors dealing with its temperament and will vary widely between animals, breeds, as well as the dog’s past experience or even its medical condition. According to this definition, a defense attorney could claim that almost any action or activity was a provocation. This is why you need an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of Minnesota dog bite statutes. To learn more about dog bite liability laws in the Duluth and St. Cloud Minnesota areas connect with us today.