My family owns a dog. She's quite tame and docile, but occasionally gets her curiosity piqued by passers-by or other dogs. My home in Hugo abuts a park that almost always has people playing there or walking through. What risk does my dog represent?
The starting point is Minnesota Statutes Section 347.22, which states:
“If a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner of the dog is liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained.”
A critical element within the statute is "without provocation". That is, if the person injured by your dog was minding her own business, you have a problem. On the other hand, if some punk kids are goading your dog into a frenzy, you might have an out.
A critical element not in the statute is the requirement that your dog physically makes contact with the injured person. Minnesota case law is replete with appellate opinions affirming that if your dog reasonably alarms another person by, for example, rushing to the invisible fence line, and the person falls off a bike or the like, the dog's owner is liable for the injuries.
Beware at home what your dog is doing, is capable of doing, and know your risks. If you are injured by a dog, I will work you through the case and get you what you deserve. Properly documenting the events and damages is critical to a successful case.
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