Bit By Friend’s Dog Homeowners Insurance Claim MN Lawyer


A dog bite can happen anywhere, but most often happens in the home where the dog is staying.  When you call our office regarding a Minnesota dog bite, an experienced lawyer will advise you of your rights and make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to.

In one recent case, our attorney represented a five year old boy bit in the face by a dog.  The dog owner’s daughter and the 5 year old boy’s older sister were friends from school. April 25 was the night of the high school prom, and several families had been invited to the dog owner’s home to take photographs before the dinner and dance.

Bitten By Friends Dog Homeowners Insurance MN Lawyer
Bitten By Friends Dog Homeowners Insurance MN Lawyer

When the five year old boy’s family arrived at the dog owner’s home, they were initially invited inside the house as the girls continued to get ready.  Apparently, the friend’s mother had two dogs in the house while the girls were getting ready, and the dog owner confined the dogs to a bedroom, with the door shut, so that they would not get in the way. Eventually, the group moved outside to take the pictures.  However, our client stayed in the house with another young neighbor boy, the owner’s grandson. The owner admitted that at that point the dogs were still confined to a room in the house. One of the dogs “Callie” began scratching at the bedroom door to get out.  The grandson decided to open the door to tell Callie to stop and Callie ran out of the room.  Callie ran into the living room and jumped onto the couch next to where our five year old client was sitting.  Callie then ran up to our client and bit him in the face. This child had scarring on his fact because of the bite, and our dog bite lawyers were retained to get compensation to pay the medical bills, plastic surgery and whatever else was needed.

Minnesota dog bite statute, Minn. Stat. § 347.22 (2008), provides in pertinent 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.

When its elements are established, this statute imposes absolute liability upon the dog owner. Seim v. Garavalia, 306 N.W.2d 806, 812 (Minn. 1981). Neither common-law affirmative defenses nor statutory comparative fault are available to a dog owner or keeper under the statute. It makes no difference that the dog owner may have used reasonable care; negligence is irrelevant.

Although not explicit, the dog owner and her attorney suggested three potential defenses they may raise at trial:

  • They seem to indicate there could be comparative fault on the part of our client’s parents for leaving him in the house, despite the clear language of the statute and no evidence that they knew there were dogs in the house or that the dogs might be let out of the bedroom.
  • They have indicated they could raise a provocation defense because our client “put his face too close to Callie” after Callie jumped on the couch, or because he reached out to touch Callie. The police report states that the other boy told the officer that after Callie jumped on the couch, he leaned down and was near an area dogs wouldn’t like, and that our appeared to try to pet or hug the dog on its side. There are many cases holding that this scenario does not rise to the level of provocation, and our top dog bite lawyer ultimately prevailed on this issue on summary judgment. At the same time, however, it was tempting to let them raise this argument to a jury and have them try to explain how a very cute five year old boy sitting peacefully on a couch is at fault for having his face too close to the dog that jumped up next to him and then bit him.
  • They have also indicated that the friend dog owner is not negligent because she did not know that our client stayed in the house when everyone else went outside. We were not sure if this was a trespass defense against the five year old boy who was invited into the house and then neither he nor his parents were told he had to leave.  Either way, our dog bite lawyer again obtained a grant of summary judgment from the MN court.


In most cases when a person suffers a dog bite at a friend’s house or because of a friend’s dog, the dog owner will have homeowners insurance to compensate the victim.  No one wants to sue their friend, but a dog bite can be serious and most of the time (especially with children) the bite is to the face and leaves a scar that may need future treatment or will affect the person for the rest of their lives.  The dog owner should be happy and relieved to compensate their friend in any way possible. If you or a family member have been bitten or attacked by a friend’s dog please call us and speak with a lawyer for a free consultation.  Our best dog bite attorneys have more than 25 years’ experience successfully representing hundreds of people who have been bitten or attacked by a dog throughout Minnesota. We have offices where you can discuss your dog bite case with a lawyer in Minneapolis, Woodbury, Edina, and St. Louis Park.  A top dog bite lawyer will also meet you at your home in Maple Grove, Plymouth, Chaska, Chanhassen, Rogers, Hopkins, Apple Valley, Lakeville, St. Paul, Roseville, Forest Lake, and other cities throughout Minnesota.