Frequently Asked Questions
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Dog Bites

  1. What exactly is a dog bite?
  2. Who can sue for dog bite injuries and who will be liable?
  3. Is the dog owner covered by insurance?
  4. Is there a law that protects my family and me if we are attacked by any animal other than a dog?
  5. My child suffered a severe injury after being knocked down by a large dog owned by a neighbor. Can my child bring a lawsuit and recover for her injuries?
  6. What damages are recoverable in animal bite cases?
  7. How soon do I need to bring a case after an animal bite incident?
  8. Should parents get a lawyer for their injured child?
  9. What is my dog bite case worth?
  10. How do I know if it is worthwhile to take any legal action?
  11. How long will it take to resolve my dog bite claim?
  12. Why do some dogs bite?
  13. What are some warning signs that a dog may become violent?
  14. Can I bring a claim if I was petting the dog before it attacked?
  15. What information should I collect in the event of a dog bite?

Questions & Answers

What exactly is a dog bite?
Answer:
A dog bite is when a dog’s mouth closes around a part of the  person’s body. The skin does not need to be broken. The bite can result in broken skin, scars, or a crush-type injury affecting the nerves or muscles.

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Who can sue for dog bite injuries and who will be liable?
Answer:
The injured victim can bring a claim or a lawsuit. When a minor child has been bitten by a dog the claim needs to be brought on behalf of the parents and by the parents on behalf of the minor child. A claim or lawsuit would be against the owner of the dog, or the person who is in control of the dog at the time of the bite.

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Is the dog owner covered by insurance?
Answer:
Yes, generally under their homeowner’s insurance policy. Almost all homeowner’s policies cover for attacks and bites by pets.

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Is there a law that protects my family and me if we are attacked by any animal other than a dog?
Answer:
Absent any direct statute you can always bring a claim for negligence (the failure to act as a reasonable person would) for actions by any animal that causes personal injury or wrongful death. That claim would be against the person who owned or was in control of the dangerous animal.

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My child suffered a severe injury after being knocked down by a large dog owned by a neighbor. Can my child bring a lawsuit and recover for her injuries?
Answer:
A minor child does not have the right to bring a direct cause of action in Minnesota. However, the parents and natural guardians of that child can bring a claim on the child’s behalf. This would be a case arising out of negligence. The owner of the dog has an obligation to take reasonable control of the animal and keep it from knocking individuals down.

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What damages are recoverable in animal bite cases?
Answer:
Medical bills incurred, future medical expense, pain, disability, emotional distress, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, and disfigurement.

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How soon do I need to bring a case after an animal bite incident?
Answer:
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The investigation into the incident should begin immediately. You are also governed by Minnesota statutes, which prohibit you from bringing a claim against the negligent party more than six years after the date of the incident. If the injured victim is a minor child, then they would have until one year past their 18th birthday, or six years, whichever is longer.

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Should parents get a lawyer for their injured child?
Answer:
Yes, since the minor child is unable to fend for themselves, the parents have an obligation to protect the minor’s rights to a potential claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party.

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What is my dog bite case worth?
Answer:
Every case differs depending on the severity of the injuries, the medical bills, and the final outcome of the injuries such as permanent disfigurement and/or disability. Therefore, it is almost impossible to tell a person what a case is worth without a thorough evaluation of the medical records and viewing of any scarring.

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How do I know if it is worthwhile to take any legal action?
Answer:
Our lawyers will evaluate the case for you and advise if you have a viable claim. There is no charge for the initial consultation; therefore you have nothing to lose by contacting a lawyer early on for free legal advice.

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How long will it take to resolve my dog bite claim?
Answer:
That depends on the healing process and the severity of the injuries. Your lawyer will want to make sure they are aware of all injuries and a potential future damages before entering into any settlement negotiations. Generally speaking, negotiations will not begin until one-year post traumatic incident.

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Why do some dogs bite?
Answer:
Some dogs bite because of provocation. When someone is provoking a dog this can make the dog angry and defensive, they respond by biting. Provocation is the best defense to a liability claim for a dog’s actions.

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What are some warning signs that a dog may become violent?
Answer:
Growling, barking, and not wagging it’s tail.

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Can I bring a claim if I was petting the dog before it attacked?
Answer:
Yes, as long as you were not provoking the dog. Some examples of provocation would be hitting the dog, pushing a stick at the dog or at its face, or yelling at the dog. Often times a child pulling on a dog’s tail will be enough to provoke them into biting.

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What information should I collect in the event of a dog bite?
Answer:
Name and address of the owner of the dog, location of the scene of the dog attack, name of the dog owner’s insurance company, and any and all information you can gather as to whether the dog has bitten  before. It is also imperative that you take photographs of the injury as  soon as possible. Those photographs should continue to be updated as the injury heals.

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