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St. Paul Dog Injures Child In Midst of National Dog Bite Prevention Week

National Dog Bite Prevention Week – a collaborative initiative sponsored by a diverse array of groups ranging from the American Veterinary Medical Association to the U.S. Postal Service – ran May 20-26 this year. By raising awareness and providing safety tips, Dog Bite Prevention week aims to cut down on the 4.7 million dog bites that plague American households every year.

One St. Paul dog owner didn’t seem to get the message though – and hadn’t for the past two years. On May 24, “Blue,” a 175-pound mastiff, bit an 18-month-old St. Paul girl. The child was hospitalized for injuries to her face and head. Yet, the attack was not altogether unexpected: Animal Control records indicate that Blue bit a 4-year-old in 2010, and attacked the same child again in early 2012.

After the third bite, Blue’s owner finally gave him up. But the story serves as a powerful cautionary tale, and a reminder of the legal remedies available to dog bite victims in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Dog Bite Statute Helps Victims Collect on Dog Owner’s Insurance Policy

In 2011, dog bite liability payouts cost insurance companies $479 million. The average value of a claim made against a homeowner’s liability policy for a dog bite injury was $29,400.

Clearly, funds are available to help cover your medical bills, compensate you for pain and suffering, and take care of other expenses that may arise as a consequence of a serious dog bite. So under what circumstances can you collect the money you’re owed if a dog bite impacts your life?

Minnesota’s dog bite statute is construed liberally in favor of victims. It has been interpreted by state courts to impose absolute, strict liability for dog bites not only on a dog’s owner, but also secondarily on any person harboring or keeping a dog. Essentially, this means that if a dog bites someone, no matter what safety precautions were in place or how careful the owner was, the victim should be entitled to monetary relief.

Owners have one effective defense to dog bite liability in Minnesota: provocation. When the bite victim voluntary acted in such a way as to invite the attack (for example, by hitting the dog while it was sleeping), the provocation defense may preclude owner liability.

Don’t Hesitate: Call a Minnesota Dog Bite Lawyer

It can be a difficult decision personally to pursue a dog bite claim. Most dog bites come from animals owned by someone close to the victim: the dog-enthusiast journal The Bark reports that a neighbor’s dog is responsible for 50 percent of bites.

Yet, dog bites can generate significant expenses, and that’s what homeowner’s liability insurance is for. If a dog has bitten you or someone close to you, get in touch with a Minnesota dog bite lawyer today to learn more about your right to compensation.