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Dog-Bite Lawyer

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Pet lovers abound throughout Minnesota and the United States, where 69 million households are home to at least one dog. Long regarded as “man’s best friend” due to their protective and loyal nature, dogs are not always harmless. Dog ownership incurs a significant responsibility that sadly is not always taken seriously. 

Minnesotans suffered 370 dog bites in 2018. As many as 4.5 million dog bites occur throughout the United States every year.

The personal injury attorneys at Milavetz Injury Law, P. A., have nearly 60 years of experience representing dog-bite victims. We have seen firsthand how traumatic bite injuries can be. Dog-bite victims should not have to pay for the harm caused by irresponsible pet owners.

How does Minnesota define a dangerous dog?

The state of Minnesota requires dangerous dogs to be registered with the state and for the owner to display a state-issued dangerous-dog decal on the property where the dog is kept. Minnesota Statute §347.50 defines a dangerous dog as a dog that has:

  • Inflicted serious injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property
  • Killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property
  • Aggressively bitten, attacked, or endangered humans or domestic animals after the owner was warned the dog is potentially dangerous 

The statute also prohibits municipalities from enacting breed-specific restrictions, which means residents in the greater Minneapolis–St. Paul area may own any breed of dog.

What dog breeds are most often involved in claims?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the dog’s individual behavior and history are the most relevant indicators of whether a dog will bite, not the breed.

While there may be other dog breeds that are more likely to bite someone, the insurance industry most commonly pays dog-bite claims for the following breeds:

  • Doberman pinschers
  • Pit bulls
  • Rottweilers
  • Chow Chows
  • Wolf dogs and wolf hybrids
  • Presa Canarios (Canary Dogs)
  • Akitas
  • German Shepherds
  • Huskies
  • Mastiffs

Who is liable for dog bites?

The Minnesota dog-bite law assigns strict liability for dog bites to the owner. Anyone such as a veterinarian or groomer who is harboring the animal also shares some liability. Strict liability means the owner is liable even if the owner was unaware the dog would bite.

What if the dog was provoked?

The owner is liable only if the dog was unprovoked. Dog owners may claim the dog was provoked when a victim was simply engaging in normal human behavior. Our dog-bite attorneys can help you determine whether the dog was provoked.

What about cases of trespassing?

According to the Minnesota dog-bite law, owner liability applies when victims are “where they may lawfully be.” Owners are not liable in cases of trespassing. However, being on the premises uninvited does not automatically constitute trespassing.

How much is my dog-bite claim worth?

Minnesota dog-bite victims could be entitled to substantial compensation. The following types of compensation are available:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Mental health counseling
  • Medical equipment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Punitive damages when the pet owner knowingly and recklessly endangered you or your child

In the tragic event that a dog-bite injury causes the death of a family member, a wrongful death lawsuit could be pursued.

Note that you must file your dog-bite claim within the six-year statute of limitations window in Minneapolis to guarantee that you can pursue compensation.

Dog Bite Injury Compensation Infographic

Dog Bites and Children

As many as half of all children experience dog bites. Child dog-bite victims are more than twice as likely as adults to require medical treatment. Young children between the ages of five and nine experience the highest percentage of bites, and they are often bitten on the head, face, and neck because of their size in relation to a dog.

The majority of dog bites perpetrated on children involve dogs known to them with no history of biting. Any dog can bite. Dog owners should never assume their dogs will not bite a child, no matter how gentle they believe the dog seems.

Children should be taught how to properly interact with a dog whether it’s their own or someone else’s. They should also be taught to always get permission before petting someone else’s dog in case that dog is not good with kids or is just in a situation where it is on edge.

What are the effects of animal bites?

Any dog bite that breaks the skin requires medical attention due to the potential for infections to develop. 


Rabies from dog bites is not as significant a threat as it once was, thanks to widespread vaccination. However, unvaccinated dogs, especially those that roam at large, could pose a risk. If you or your loved one has been bitten by such a dog, contact a physician and the Minnesota Department of Health as soon as possible to determine whether postexposure prophylaxis will be necessary.


Dog bites can result in permanent injuries and death. The most common dog-bite injuries include the following:

  • Scratches
  • Lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Crushing injuries
  • Tearing away of a body part

Injuries to the face can be permanently disfiguring and may require extensive reconstructive surgery.

Psychological Consequences

Many adult and child dog-bite victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder. One study found symptoms of PTSD in nearly 70 percent of children who survived dog attacks. Caregivers and parents also experienced psychological damage. These impacts can be disabling without appropriate therapy.

Why do dogs bite?

The most common reasons dogs bite are listed below: 

  • Fear: This is the most common root cause of all dog bites and occurs when dogs are overwhelmed, in unfamiliar situations, or improperly socialized.
  • Startled: This is most common when dogs are sleeping and in older dogs with diminishing eyesight and hearing.
  • Protecting/Guarding: Dogs are territorial, and some become aggressive when guarding their home, humans, food, and toys.
  • Frustration: If the dog is being kept from something it wants or is unable to escape an uncomfortable situation, it may bite whoever it perceives as the obstacle.
  • Pain: Dogs that are injured or ill may bite in response to the stress.
  • Play: Some dogs become out of control while playing.

These situations can be prevented by the owner of the dog through proper training, socialization, and containment.

Other Animal Attacks

While dog attacks are the most common animal attack, bites from other domestic animals such as cats, ferrets, and horses are also common. Wild or unvaccinated animals could pose a rabies risk. You should report a dog bite or dangerous animal to Minneapolis Animal Care & Control immediately.

In a life-threatening emergency, always dial 911. You may report any non-emergency animal concerns to Minneapolis 311.

How can a Minneapolis dog-bite attorney help me with my case?

Recovery from dog bites can be long and painful while incurring substantial medical bills. A dog-bite attorney can take care of the legal matters while you focus on recovery. Dog-bite cases often begin with a claim against a homeowner’s insurance company.

Our law firm has been helping everyday people stand up to insurance companies since 1963. Insurance companies have access to expensive teams of lawyers, and we believe every injured person should have access to quality legal representation. 

Our attorneys have been recognized as some of the top lawyers in the nation, having earned such prestigious designations as Super Lawyers, Minnesota’s Top Personal Injury Lawyers, and Lawdragon’s 3000 Leading Plaintiffs’ Lawyers in America.

When you hire a personal attorney at Milavetz Injury Law, P.A., you receive dedicated legal representation from a compassionate, experienced lawyer who truly cares. We value the attorney-client relationship because we value people.

We offer free case evaluations and valuable legal advice to help you build strong cases so you will receive the full compensation you are due.

We have nine law office locations throughout the Twin Cities. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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