According to the CDC, nearly 2% of the U.S. population is bitten by a dog each year – more than 4.7 million people annually. Nearly 800,000 of those bites require medical attention.
Children are the most common victims of dog bites. Most dog bites involving young children occur during ordinary daily activities and/or while interacting with a familiar dog.
If the bite, or a resulting infection, results in hospitalization, the costs of such care can be substantial. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 9,500 dog bite victims are hospitalized, with an average cost of $18,200 per patient each year.
Minnesota has a dog bite statute which is very favorable to injured persons. It provides, in relevant part, “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.” Minn. Stat. § 347.22. Thus, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for any injury the dog inflicts on a victim, unless the victim mistreated or provoked the dog.
If you’ve been injured by a dog, your first priority should be to obtain proper medical care. Your next step should be to contact an experienced Dog Bite attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. The attorneys at Suk Law Firm have represented dog bite victims and their families for over 40 years and have won numerous large verdicts and settlements of up to $250,000 for injuries sustained as a result of interactions with an aggressive dog. We also routinely handle much smaller cases involving minor dog bites, usually children. If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
There is a six-year statute of limitations for dog bite claims, but it is crucial that you take action as soon as possible to preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and ensure that your rights are protected. If a minor is involved, the statute of limitations may be extended.
Basic Safety Tips
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain motionless, do not run or scream.
- Do not allow children to play with a dog unsupervised.
- Do not disturb a dog while it is eating or sleeping.
- Allow a dog to see and sniff your closed hand before petting it and then pet only with the permission of the owner.
Tips for Dog Owners
Having a dog in the home increases the likelihood of a dog bite.
Households with more than one dog are five times more likely to be bitten than those households with no dogs.
Certain breeds of dogs, including but not limited to, German shepherds, pit bulls, Dobermans, and huskies, are much more prone to attack than other dogs. Consider well the costs of a dog bite before acquiring even the most gentle appearing of dogs which may have a “guard dog mentality.”
Before bringing a dog into your home:
- Research what breeds would be the best fit for your home.
- Spend time with the dog before bringing it home. Do not bring a dog with any aggressive tendencies into a home with children.
- Check your homeowner’s coverage. Many insurance policies exclude or severely restrict coverage for dog bites, leaving dog owners potentially exposed to large, under-insured risk.
After bringing a dog home:
- Spay or neuter your dog, as this often reduces aggression.
- Have your dog vaccinated for rabies and preventable infectious diseases.
- Properly socialize and train your dog.
- Do not play aggressive games with your dog (such as wrestling or tug-of-war).
- If your dog develops aggressive behaviors, seek professional guidance from your veterinarian.
If You Are Bitten by a Dog
- If the dog owner is present, get his or her contact information, request proof of rabies vaccination, and ask for the owner’s veterinarian’s contact information.
- Clean the wound with soap and water.
- Consult a physician immediately.