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Are dog owners liable for bites in Minnesota?

From beloved family pets at home to hunting and working companions in the field, dogs are an important part of many Americans’ lives. However, even an otherwise well-behaved dog may cause injury if owners fail to properly restrain their pet around others. When owners are negligent or abusive, an animal may also become dangerously aggressive.

In Minnesota, dog ownership comes with certain legal responsibilities. If a pet’s behavior leads to injuries, an owner may have to provide compensation for the damage done.

When is an owner liable for injuries?

Minnesota’s dog bite law states that an owner may be liable for injuries if a pet attacks or injures a person and:

  • The individual was acting peaceably and not provoking the dog
  • The individual was legally present on private or public property

The dog’s owner is primarily liable for his or her pet’s behavior. However, a person who is caring for another’s pet may also be liable under the law.

What if it was the pet’s first aggressive incident?

Unlike some other states, Minnesota holds owners “strictly liable” for their pets’ actions. An owner may be responsible for covering injuries related to an attack even if the dog had not acted aggressively in the past. Additionally, an injured person does not have to prove an owner’s negligence to pursue compensation.

From primary injuries like lacerations and broken bones to complications from a dog bite infection, dog attacks can cause extreme harm or even death. Those dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite injury should know that help may be available under the law.