A dog attack is an alarming, painful, and confusing event you never expect. When a dog jumps out at you suddenly, it’s nearly impossible to think logically about how to react. Dogs that inflict injuries can warrant compensation.
In Minnesota, the strict liability rule obligates dog owners to cover the victim’s damages. However, obtaining fair compensation isn’t always easy. By working with a Minnesota dog bite lawyer from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, you can improve your chances of getting the money you deserve.
Minnesota Dog Bite Attorneys
Recovering your money from a dog owner is rarely easy. Dog owners hire lawyers to create a defense that may ruin your case and ability to obtain compensation.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we have decades of experience working with dog bite victims. Our Minnesota dog bite lawyers know how to help you recover damages. We never back down from complex cases and we will take them to trial if necessary.
By choosing our firm, you don’t just get a team with extensive legal experience. You obtain much-needed support, valuable advice, and comprehensive assistance.
We know how to
- Collect evidence: Our team collects relevant evidence, including eyewitness testimony, camera footage, neighbor testimony, records of previous dog attacks, and more.
- File the paperwork: The faster you file a claim against the dog owner, the easier it will be to win your case. Our lawyers prepare and file all the necessary paperwork.
- Negotiate with the insurance company: Negotiations are often the toughest part of dog bite cases. We take care of the entire process, shielding you from stressful situations, rude insurance adjusters, and unfair offers.
- Take the case to court, if necessary: If the insurance company doesn’t offer a fair settlement or the dog owner is uninsured, we can take the case to court. Our trial attorneys know how to win dog bite cases.
- Provide support: When recovering from dog bite injuries, legal action may be hard to handle. Our lawyers offer legal support and valuable advice every step of the way.
We understand the toll a severe dog bite injury takes on your health and wallet. That’s why we offer free case evaluations. If you decide to hire our team, you don’t pay unless we win. Accordingly, you don’t have to worry about the financial burden of legal action.
Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers has several offices in Minnesota. Depending on your location and preferences, you can come to our office in Duluth, Woodbury, Minneapolis, or Hibbing.
We understand that you may not be ready to travel while tending to your injuries. Don’t worry; our dog bite lawyers can arrange a remote consultation. Contact us to discuss details and schedule a case review at your convenience.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
Over 800,000 people in the United States need medical attention after dog bites every year. Many more don’t seek compensation because they mistakenly believe their case is worthless.
Your dog bite case can be worth a significant amount of money. Some settlements add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The size of your compensation can depend on many different factors, including:
Extent Of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries plays a key role in determining the compensation amount. A slight injury doesn’t warrant sizable expenses. For example, if you have a few scrapes on your legs, you only need one emergency room visit and maybe a follow-up appointment.
Meanwhile, a large puncture wound in your side may require surgery and follow-up care. It could also keep you from returning to work. These expenses and lost wages require compensation.
Type of Your Injuries
The type of your injuries also carries significant weight. For example, a puncture wound on your leg isn’t the same as a laceration on your face because the latter may require expensive plastic surgery to correct.
Dog bites can cause serious disfigurement that comes with pain, suffering, emotional anguish, and severe loss of quality of life. That’s why you can also sue the dog owner for non-economic damages.
Your Ability to Prove Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages in dog bite cases can be sizable. The visible wounds may heal quickly. However, emotional anguish and PTSD may last for years. Some people develop cynophobia (fear of dogs) and have problems visiting parks or walking down city streets.
The dog owner should compensate you for this type of pain and suffering, but only if you manage to prove it.
Evidence that supports non-economic damages includes:
- Photos and videos of your injuries
- Your personal journals
- Family videos to demonstrate a decrease in quality of life
- Expert witness testimony
A dog bite attorney can help you gather evidence, hire witnesses, and obtain necessary testimonies. If the judge or insurance company admits your pain and suffering, your compensation can increase dramatically.
Homeowners’ or renters’ insurance usually covers dog bites but only up to the policy limits. These limits are usually between $100,000 and $300,000 or sometimes even up to $1,000,000. If your damages exceed this amount, you must pursue damages against the dog owner’s umbrella insurance policy if the dog owner has one. If there is no insurance then you will need to proceed against the dog owner directly.
Your ability to recover the rest of the money depends on the dog owner’s assets. If the owner is a senior on social security, you may not be able to get significant compensation.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we check the insurance limits, evaluate the dog owner’s assets, and choose how to proceed to recover as much money as possible.
If the case goes to court, the judge may decide to assign punitive damages. This decision usually happens if the dog owner acts outrageously or with an intentional disregard for others. For example, if a person owns a dangerous dog, they should provide a proper enclosure and keep the animal on a leash and in a muzzle if the dog is taken out in public.
If they fail to do so, and the dog bites you, the judge may assign sizable punitive damages to punish the dog owner.
Your legal experience and expertise also affect the size of your compensation. If you don’t have either, consider hiring an attorney. Our Minnesota dog bite attorneys know how to increase your compensation.
Dog Bites in Minnesota
Victims report around 370 dog bites in Minnesota annually. These incidents occur in parks, on the streets, and on dog owners’ properties. It’s hard to predict or avoid a dog bite since it can happen anywhere, in public or private locations.
Minnesota has a strict liability dog bite law. It means that the owner is responsible for their dog’s behavior. To obtain compensation, you don’t need to show that the dog owner acted negligently.
However, dog owners also have several lines of defense.
- Provocation: If they can prove that you provoked the dog before it bit you, you may not be able to obtain compensation.
- Trespassing: If they can prove that you weren’t legally allowed to be on the property where a dog bit you, you could have trouble winning the case.
- Statute of limitations: You only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit after a dog bite happens. If you miss the filing deadline, the judge can dismiss the case.
Since these defenses exist, dog owners and insurance companies do everything they can to use them. To effectively battle their arguments, you should hire an experienced attorney.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we have many years of experience winning personal injury cases. Regarding dog bites, our attorneys know how to counter the above defenses and help you recover fair damages.
Statute of Limitations
According to Minnesota Statutes, you generally must file a personal injury lawsuit within six years of when a dog injures you. However, the longer you wait to take legal action, the harder it can be to prove your case.
When years pass after the accident, the evidence fades; people leave the state, dogs die, and much more. If you decide to file a lawsuit in five years, it may be harder to build a strong case. We recommend contacting an attorney as soon as the bite occurs.
If several years have passed since your dog bite incident, schedule a consultation with one of our Minnesota dog bite attorneys. We can evaluate your case free of charge and review available options.
Types of Dog Bite Injuries
When a dog attacks, you can sustain:
- Cuts, scrapes, and abrasions: These minor injuries may not seem important. However, you may face a serious infection if a dog’s saliva enters your bloodstream. That’s why all injuries require medical attention regardless of their severity.
- Laceration: A dog’s teeth penetrate the skin and cause damage at different depths. Such injuries could result in significant bleeding.
- Puncture: A dog’s bite can cause serious puncture wounds that require immediate medical attention. Some of these wounds can be extremely deep and cause disfigurement.
- Brain, neck, and spine injuries: When the victim falls during an attack, they may sustain severe brain or spinal injuries.
- Face and eye injuries: Often these can be tear duct injuries, facial scarring, or even damage to the nose or eyes. These happen most often when a dog attacks small children.
Even if you don’t feel your injuries are severe, seek medical attention anyway. If a large dog attacked, and you fell, you could sustain internal injuries and bleeding. Going to the emergency room isn’t just important for your health. Bills and doctors’ reports can serve as evidence to support your compensation claim.
Sometimes, a dog attack may be lethal. If your loved one died due to a dog’s attack, you could seek wrongful death damages. This compensation should cover all related expenses, including pre-death medical costs, burial expenses, pain and suffering, loss of inheritance, and more.
Negotiations With the Insurance Company
You might settle a dog bite case without going to court. To do that, you must file a claim with the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance company. The next step is to negotiate a fair settlement.
Negotiations with insurance companies are always complex, stressful, and taxing. Insurance adjusters use their experience and tactics to talk you into accepting a low settlement.
Recovering a fair amount without an attorney on your side is hard. Meanwhile, the entire process can overwhelm you.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we have experienced negotiators who handle all interactions with the insurance company for our clients. This support alleviates our clients’ stress and maximizes the potential settlement.
What to Do After a Dog Bites You
The first thing to do after a dog bites you is seek medical attention. Some victims try to handle wounds independently, thus putting their health in danger. Even if you have already stopped the bleeding and bandaged the wound, speak to a medical professional anyway.
After that, consider contacting an attorney for an evaluation of your case. The faster you do this, the better chance the dog bite lawyer has of building a strong case and obtaining fair compensation.
Don’t worry about filing claims or speaking to insurance companies. Delegate these tasks to an attorney. This decision can prevent many mistakes and improve your case.
Minnesota Dog Bite Lawyer FAQ
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a dog attack, you probably have questions about what to do next. Minnesota law may permit you to take legal action for damages, but you’ll probably need a lawyer’s help.
Below you’ll find answers to some commonly asked questions about dog bite cases in Minnesota. To speak for free with a legal professional who can answer more detailed questions about your specific case, contact our experienced Minnesota dog bite law firm today.
How long do I have to seek damages for a dog bite in Minnesota?
Minnesota’s statute of limitations for dog bite injury lawsuits is six years, in most cases. If you fail to take action within that window, you risk losing your rights to receive compensation for your dog bite injuries.
Importantly, however, six years can sometimes be far too much time to wait to take legal action. If you want to secure the maximum compensation available for your dog bite, chances are you’ll likely need to get started far sooner. A delay in enforcing your rights could make it difficult to collect important evidence your lawyer may need to prove your claim. In addition, the longer a claim goes un-made, the less value the dog owner’s liability insurance carrier (who will most likely pay your damages) is likely to assign to it.
Minnesota courts sometimes make exceptions to and/or pause the statute of limitations. But those are rare cases. Contact an experienced Minnesota dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of securing the money you need to pay for medical care and to move on from your dog bite injury.
What are my rights in Minnesota if a dog bit me?
Under Minnesota law, there’s a good chance you have the right to seek damages from the dog’s owner for the full amount of the injury you sustained. The dog’s owner which includes “any person harboring or keeping a dog,” such as a kennel or dog walker must pay you damages so long as the dog bit you without provocation and the attack occurred in a place where you had the lawful right to be.
Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney in Minnesota Today
If a dog bites you, seek compensation from the owner or their insurance company. While strict liability dog bite laws in Minnesota can be dog bite victim-friendly, you still need to counter the owner’s defenses. The case may even proceed to trial.
To obtain fair compensation, consider seeking legal assistance. At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we’ve helped many dog bite victims recover damages and improve their quality of life. To find out how our Minnesota dog bite lawyers can help you, contact us today for your free consultation at (612) 688-4459.
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