Gabrielson Law Offices, LTD. - personal injury

What is Minnesota law on dog bites and attacks?

Warm weather beckons everyone outdoors, from little children to the elderly. It also brings animals out into the open, both wildlife and domestic pets. It is common to see people walking or playing with their dogs outside.

With more chances to interact with dogs on public and private property, it is important to know Minnesota law in case a canine bites or attacks you. Then you will know if you can pursue a case under the dog-bite statute and maybe under common law negligence as well. 

Strict liability

Dog owners are strictly liable for the actions of their four-legged family members. For you to hold an owner responsible, the bite or attack must meet the following requirements according to Minnesota law:

  • You had a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private.
  • You were acting peaceably.
  • You did not provoke the dog.

Negligence on the part of the owner does not need to be present, and comparative fault does not apply. Likewise, a dog's history of positive behavior is irrelevant. If someone besides the owner was caring for the canine at the time, that person may also be legally accountable.

Leash law

Dangerous dogs must always wear muzzles and be on a chain or leash when out in public. At their homes, they must be in an enclosure. Other dogs may be free on their owners' properties but must be on a leash when going for a walk.

Public nuisance

If a dog continually bothers peaceable pedestrians, drivers and other citizens, you can file a complaint to have a judge determine if the pet is a public nuisance, even if no bite or attack occurred. A ruling that the dog is a public nuisance will result in its termination. If you find this action unfavorable, you can try different approaches first to try to get the owner to rectify the situation.

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