INJURED BY DOG ATTORNEYS
The law in Minnesota holds a dog owner strictly liable for ANY injury caused by his dog. The injury does not have to be a dog bite. Our dog injury lawyers have represented people who have been pushed over by a dog while entering a house, knocked off their bike by a dog, gotten in a car accident caused by a dog that got loose and ran onto the highway, and many other situations.
In one case where a person was injured by a dog, our MN attorney represented a woman who was pushed down the stairs by a dog at her niece’s house. The claim was technically against the niece, but is really against the dog owner’s homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance usually covers injuries caused by the homeowners dog, and in this case the insurance company ended up paying all the medical bills plus fair compensation to our client for her injuries.
The incident happened on a Sunday, at about 2:00 p.m. Our elderly client had been invited by her niece to the niece’s house for their daughter’s high school graduation party. Our client had arrived at the party at about 1:00 p.m. with her sister and brother-in-law. Over the course of the afternoon there were about 40 people at the party, which was held in the back-yard of the house. When our client arrived at the house, the niece’s dog was outside. Our client went into the house and set her purse in a bedroom. At around 2:00 p.m. our client went back into the house to get her purse, because she had a card in the purse she wanted to give to graduation girl (great-niece). By the time our client went into the house to get the card, the niece’s other daughter, had arrived at the party and brought her dog with her (a large white dog). As the party got more crowded, the dogs were put into the house. Unfortunately, the dogs were not locked in a room or in the basement, but instead were allowed to roam freely in the house.
When our client entered the back door of the house, the dogs were at the door trying to get out. The back door opens into the house and the hinges are on the right side, so our client was pushing in from the left. The steps leading down to the basement are on the immediate left of the back-door, and the door to the basement was open. After our client got into the house, she tried to close the back-door behind her without letting the dogs out. As she was closing the door, both dogs were trying to get out and pushed against her, causing her to fall backwards down the stairs. She immediately reached out to grab the railing, but there was no railing for those stairs. The stairs lead to a cement floor in the basement, where she landed and hit her head against a sump pump.
Our attorney’s claim to the homeowners insurance company for the injury caused by the dog, and the owner’s negligence, was based on three factors:
- the dogs should have been confined to the basement or one of the rooms in the house.
- the basement door should have been closed during the party because the basement stairs are so close to the back-door and people are coming and going through the house. The niece said that she told her husband and daughters to keep that door closed because she knew it was dangerous to keep the door open during the party, but they forgot to do it.
- Minnesota law holds the owner strictly liable for injury caused by their dog, without regard to negligence, and the only defenses are trespass and provocation. Minn.Stat. §347.22 provides, “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.” This statute does not require that the dog bite the victim, it does not require that the dog be intentionally vicious, and it does not even require that the dog actually come in contact with the person. For example, there is a case, Morris v. Weatherly, where the Minnesota court of appeals held the dog owner liable because a dog ran toward a bicycle rider resulting in the rider becoming off balanced and falling. There is another case, Boitz v. Preblich, where a dog bumped into a person causing the person to fall and become injured.
Our client could have been tragically injured or killed because of being pushed down the stairs by a dog. As it turns out, she suffered a compression fracture in her neck (still a serious injury) that required treatment and healing for about six months before she was back to normal. Her medical bills as a result of being injured by these dogs were about $70,000. The dog owner’s homeowners insurance company did not immediately pay and we had to initially sue the dog owner (the niece’s family). Fortunately, the homeowner’s insurance company eventually accepted its responsibility for the injury caused by the dog and paid the medical bills, plus additional compensation to our client for her pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one are ever injured in an accident because of a dog, please call our office and speak to a top MN lawyer for a free consultation. Pam Rochlin and David Rochlin are personal injury lawyers in MN with 25 years’ experience helping hundreds of people get full and fair compensation for their injuries. Our MN lawyers represent many dog injury and dog bite victims each year including children, workers bitten by a dog, and others injured by a dog or bitten by a dog. If you have been injured because of a dog, an experienced lawyer is important to help deal with complicated insurance issues and to make sure you are fully compensated for the injury, including scars and future treatment. If your injury accident was caused by a dog and you would like to speak with a lawyer, you can meet us at our offices in Edina Minnesota, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, or Woodbury. Our attorneys are also available to meet you at your home in St. Paul Minnesota, Roseville, Forest Lake, Roseville MN, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Lino Lakes, Anoka MN, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Rogers, Chanhassen, Chaska, Apple Valley, Richfield MN, Bloomington Minnesota, Lakeville, Burnsville, and other cities throughout Minnesota. We will provide you with a free consultation, we will answer your questions, and we never charge anything unless you receive compensation.