When Man’s Best Friend becomes Baby’s Worst Nightmare

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My last post was about minor settlements, which are settlements on behalf of a minor person (often a suit brought by their parents) which must be approved by a court. Some of the most common cases we see that involve injured children are car accidents and dog-related injuries.

Most adults can appreciate the danger of an unfamiliar animal. Children often do not, and often rush to pet a dog that appears friendly, even if that animal is quite a bit bigger than them. Because of their physical size, children can be easily bowled over or bitten by larger dogs, resulting in sometimes serious injury requiring reconstructive surgery, skin grafts, and counseling to correct the mental and physical scarring that results. Even minor bites from unfamiliar dogs can result in expensive medical bills if treatment is required to prevent a rabies infection.

In Minnesota, dog owners are “strictly liable” if their dog injures any person so long as the injured person is where the person may lawfully be, and the dog is not provoked. Most people only consider legal action when they are bitten by a strange animal. However, the statute empowers injured persons to recover for damages even for conduct that would not be considered a vicious attack, for example, where a person is knocked over by an overly-active dog. Owners’ defenses are generally limited to situations where the injured party has trespassed in order to gain access to the dog (for example, where the injured person has come onto the owner’s property without permission when they encountered the dog), or when the injured party has provoked the dog, causing it to attack.

No matter your legal issue, it is often important to get an attorney involved as soon as possible to avoid losing your ability to be compensated for your injuries. At Swenson Lervick, our experienced attorneys can guide you through settlement negotiations with insurance companies and medical providers, and ultimately help you to file suit against the dog owner if necessary to make you whole again.

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