Dog Bite Injuries and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

Pet owners are common in communities across America. So, it’s not surprising that dogs bite almost five million Americans a year. Some of these incidents are not much more than annoying. But many of them cause serious physical and emotional injuries, as outlined below.

Largely due to the complex nature of these injuries, along with rising hospitalization costs since the end of the Great Recession, the average dog bite settlement amount has increased 76 percent since 2003. These settlement amounts usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Occasionally, these settlements also include additional punitive damages.

To successfully resolve animal attack claims, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must understand the nature of dog bite injuries and how they affect victims as well as families.

Physical Injuries

Every dog bite case is different. But most serious injury claims involve large mastiff breed animals, like pit bulls or rottweilers, and small children or other vulnerable victims.

When a big dog launches itself toward a small child, the knockdown by itself usually causes serious injuries. Some of them include:

  • Head Injuries: Contrary to popular myth, the impact of hitting the ground is not the only issue here. The sudden, violent motion might be enough to cause a head injury. This motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
  • Internal Injuries: This same force causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs lack protective skin layers, they often bleed profusely. Frequently, doctors have a hard time identifying and stopping internal bleeding.
  • Broken Bones: When children fall off their bikes, the broken bones usually set easily and heal completely. But when large dogs attack small children, the broken bones do not mend nearly as easily. Doctors typically use metal screws or plates to set them, and even after physical therapy, there may be some permanent loss of use.

In most cases, the knockdown is just the beginning. When dogs bite, their teeth cause tearing lacerations and deep puncture wounds. The lacerations often require delicate reconstructive surgery to correct, and the deep puncture wounds make the aforementioned internal bleeding even worse. In fact, many small children lose so much blood that they are on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive.

Dog bite injuries have very high infection rates. The most common bacterial infections are Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Capnocytophaga, and Pasteurella. If the victim had a pre-existing condition or a compromised immune system, as is often the case, these infections are often life-threatening.

A tiny amount of bacteria can cause a serious anaphylactic or other reaction. So, if a dog bites your child, it’s always important to see a doctor straightaway, even if the child does not seem seriously injured.

Brainerd, MN injury lawyers do more than obtain compensation for all these medical bills. Attorneys also arrange for victims to receive prompt medical care, usually at no upfront cost. Providers who focus on dog bite injuries typically provide this care. These providers know how to identify and treat things like head injuries and bacterial infections. These conditions are normally hard to diagnose and address.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and Emotional Animal Attack Injuries

Many child victims develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Frequently, the symptoms do not appear for several months. So, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must not move to settle such cases too quickly. If that happens, the victims might not receive fair compensation for all their injuries.

PTSD is a physical brain injury. It is not a processing disorder. Therefore, PTSD is permanent. Once brain cells are damaged, they never regenerate. That being said, extensive therapy can address symptoms like nightmares, depression, hypervigilance, and flashbacks. So, former victims can still have normal childhoods.

Your Claim for Damages

To obtain the aforementioned compensation, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers have several options. Minnesota has a very broad strict liability law. Owners are technically responsible for damages even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and had never shown any dangerous propensities.

Scienter (knowledge) is another option. Owners are liable for damages if they knew their animals were potentially dangerous yet they did nothing to keep them away from people. Evidence of knowledge includes previous attacks and pre-bite behavior, like loud barking or sudden lunging.

Insurance company defenses in dog bite claims usually revolve around the assumption of the risk rule. Specific facts include provocative behavior or a “Beware of Dog” sign. These defenses do not always hold up in court. In Minnesota, provocation is far more than aggressive teasing. And, warning signs are only legally valid in certain situations.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Animal attack victims are entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers Handle Dog Bite Defenses?

Nationwide, dogs bite over four million people per year. Mostly due to the nature of the victims, many of these bites cause incredibly serious injuries, as outlined below.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Minnesota has one of the most victim-friendly dog bite laws in the country. Animal owners are strictly liable for all attack-related damages. Carelessness or knowledge of viciousness, which are key items in some states, are largely irrelevant in Minnesota. Furthermore, there is only one fully-recognized defense. Another defense may be available in some cases. So, there are few obstacles to fair compensation.

Because of these laws, Buffalo, MN injury lawyers are often able to obtain substantial damages in these cases. However, the insurance company does not simply give this money away. Although limited defenses are available, insurance company lawyers often urge these defenses very forcefully in court.

What is at Stake: Dog Bite Injuries

Physical dog bite injuries are usually the most visible, and most costly, wounds that victims suffer in animal attack incidents.

The hurt starts with the knockdown. Frequently, a large breed animal, like a pit bull, lunges at a vulnerable victim, like a small child. These knockdowns often cause broken bones and head injuries.

Often, bones are crushed and opposed to just broken in these situations. To set them, doctors usually need to use metal pins, plates, or screws. That’s especially true if the bone is still developing. Later, these victims often require long-term physical therapy to regain lost function.

Broken bones usually heal, after time and treatment. Head injuries, on the other hand, never heal. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. Physical therapy alleviates the symptoms but does not reverse the injury.

Frequently, there is little or no visible head trauma. The skull is basically a water tank which suspends the brain in a pool of cerebrospinal fluid. Violent motion, like a knockdown, causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. It’s like shaking an egg and scrambling the yoke without cracking the shell.

Next to the knockdown, the bite is usually the worse injury. A dog’s teeth usually cause both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. The puncture wounds cause severe internal bleeding, and the lacerations usually require extensive treatment at speciality trauma centers.

Finally, many victims, especially child victims, suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. These symptoms include heightened awareness (an unnatural fear of all dogs), flashbacks, and trouble sleeping.

Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers and the Provocation Defense

Provocation is the only defense specifically mentioned in Minn. Statutes Annotated, Section 347.22. Insurance company lawyers roll out the provocation defense in almost all dog bite claims. They hope the defense will eliminate liability or at least reduce the amount of damages the victim receives.

However, in this context, provocation has a very specific meaning. Buffalo, MN injury lawyers frequently use this specific meaning to torpedo the provocation defense:

  • Intentional: Children sometimes accidentally provoke their siblings, or at least they claim it was an accident. But victims never unintentionally provoke dogs. Sudden movements and other acts are not legally provocative. Instead, the victim must try to draw a certain reaction from the animal, or at least purposefully test the animal’s limits.
  • Physical: Because of the intentionality requirement, verbal teasing, even very aggressive verbal teasing, may be insufficient. Instead, the victim must normally inflict so much pain on the animal that a violent response is justified. In this area, “provocation” is almost synonymous with “torture.”
  • Age-Related: Babies and very young children cannot provoke animals as a matter of law. It does not matter if the provocative acts were intentional and physical.

The insurance company has the burden of proof on this point. So, if a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer substantially undermines the insurance company’s evidence, that’s probably enough to defeat the provocation defense. The victim need not “prove” anything in this specific context.

Failure to Conduct Themselves Peacefully

This vague conduct is also a defense in Wright County dog bite claims. The statute does not define this phrase at all, and the supporting case law is a bit contradictory. However, in some cases, failure to conduct oneself peacefully could include ignoring a “Beware of Dog” or other sign.

A warning sign is not a get out of jail free card. However, such signage makes the assumption of the risk defense easier to establish. This doctrine excuses liability if the victim:

  • Voluntarily assumed
  • A known risk.

The insurance company must do more than prove a sign was there. The insurance company must also prove that the victim could see the sign, read the sign, and understand what it meant. These points are difficult to prove if, as is often the case, the sign was small and did not have an American National Standards Institute-approved graphic picture design.

Connect with Aggressive Attorneys

Insurance company lawyers usually fight dog bite claims tooth and nail. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence matters.

Dog Bite Injuries and Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers

Every year, dogs bite over four million Americans, and many of these attacks cause serious injuries. Typically, these injuries are difficult to treat, which means they are expensive to treat. In fact, many of these victims need costly reconstructive surgery and extensive post-operation therapy. Even then, the wounds may never fully heal.

Since so much is at stake, insurance companies often fight these claims tooth and nail. As a rule, the higher the damages go, the more an insurance company tried to prevent fair compensation.

So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must bring their A-game in these situations. Otherwise, the victim may not receive sufficient compensation for all economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Direct Dog Bite Injuries

Animal attacks, particularly if the dog was a pit bull or another aggressive large breed dog, are very well known for their often-gruesome physical injuries.

When dogs bite, their teeth often cause both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. These puncture wounds often pierce internal organs. Since these body parts have no protective skin layer, any puncture could cause enormous bleeding. The same is true of tearing lacerations. Many times, after a particularly vicious attack, the victim may have little skin left around the bite area.

Because of all this blood loss, many dog bite victims are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive. That’s especially true if the victim was vulnerable to injury, perhaps because of age or a pre-existing condition.

Usually, before dogs bite, they lunge at their victims and knock them to the ground. The knockdown often causes broken bones, head injuries, and other wounds.

Indirect Animal Attack Injuries

Dog bite victims often struggle with infections, such as Pasteurella infections. Normally, this bacterial infection is not terribly serious. The victim may experience additional pain and swelling, but many dog bite victims are already in excruciating pain. However, Pasteurella infections may be serious or even fatal in some cases.

Compounding the situation, many people do not experience infection symptoms for two weeks. By that time, they have probably been transferred to one of the aforementioned dog bite treatment centers. These professionals are not used to dealing with infections. Once Pasteurella infections spread, they become very serious and very difficult to eradicate.

Frequently, an infection is a separate legal matter. Compensation is available, but to obtain it, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer may need to look at other legal options.

Invisible Dog Bite Injuries

Animal attacks do not just cause visible, physical wounds. They cause brain injuries as well. Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must work particularly hard in this area.

The aforementioned knockdown brain injuries are not just bumps on the head. Sudden, violent motion causes the brain to slam against the insides of the skull. This motion scrambles the brain without breaking the skull, just like shaking an egg and scrambling its insides.

Moreover, dog bites often cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. Exposure to extreme life-or-death stress, like combat or dog bites, creates a chemical imbalance in the brain. These imbalances are especially serious among child victims. The lingering symptoms often include an unnatural fear of dogs, flashbacks, and nightmares.

How a Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyer Helps

All these treatments and injuries sound expensive, and they are expensive. Making matters worse, many health insurance companies do not cover injury-related costs.

To relieve the financial pressure, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers typically send letters of protection to medical providers. Since the letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved, the providers charge nothing upfront. Additionally, when the case settles, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer can negotiate with the provider and obtain a lower fee.

As a bonus, letters of protection ensure that dog bite victims see dog bit physicians. Victims do not have to settle for the doctor that an insurance company provides.

Even more importantly, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers build damages claims. In Crow Wing County, dog bite victims usually have several options. Minnesota has a very broad strict liability law. These cases are rather easy to prove, but sometimes, jurors award limited damages in strict liability cases.

Scienter (knowledge) may be a better approach. If the owner knew the animal was potentially vicious and the dog attacked someone, many jurors are very sympathetic to victims. Obviously, however, scienter is only available in some situations. Evidence of knowledge includes things like prior attacks or pre-bite behavior like aggressive barking or sudden lunging.

Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney

Dog bites often cause very serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Dog Bite Claims and Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyers

In 2018, insurance companies paid almost $700 million to settle dog bite claims. That figure works out to almost $40,000 per claim.

Many times, the claims are substantially higher. Serious dog bites usually require extensive, and expensive, reconstructive surgery. Furthermore, these wounds often get infected. If the victim has any pre-existing condition, serious dog bite wounds may become life-threatening.

Due to the serious nature of these injuries, a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation using one of the three theories outlined below. Each one has some significant pros and cons.

Strict Liability Claims in Minnesota

The Gopher State has one of the broadest animal attack laws in the country. The owner is liable “[i]f a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be.” Note that this law applies to both the knockdown and the bite itself. Many times, especially when a large dog lunges at a small victim, the knockdown may be worse than the bite.

These claims are very easy to prove in court, Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers must only establish cause. The victim/plaintiff’s testimony, coupled with a medical dog bite diagnosis, is usually sufficient.

However, strict liability claims have a downside. Crow Wing County jurors often award limited compensation in these matters, since there may be no evidence of owner negligence. Without such evidence, some jurors feel large awards unfairly punish dog owners. That’s especially true if, as is usually the case, the juror is a pet owner.

Moreover, as mentioned in the statute, the provocation defense may apply in strict liability claims. In this context, “provocation” usually means inflicting physical punishment on the dog with the intent to incite a response. If insurance company lawyers prove the victim recklessly provoked the dog (the victim didn’t think about the consequences of his/her act), that showing may be sufficient as well.

Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and the One Bite Rule

Strict liability laws are a relatively recent invention. Traditionally, the common law one bite rule always applied in these cases. This doctrine is still an option in Minnesota.

Essentially, if there is evidence that the owner knew the dog was potentially vicious, the owner may be liable for bite damages. Such evidence includes:

  • Aggressive barking,
  • Sudden lunging,
  • Baring of teeth, and
  • Menacing growling.

Since owners are clearly negligent in these situations, even pet owner jurors are usually willing to award substantial compensation in one bite cases. That’s especially true if the victim/plaintiff has considerable evidence of knowledge.

The possibility of higher compensation comes at a price. One bite claims require more proof than strict liability claims. Many times, the required evidence simply is not there.

Furthermore, since one bite claims are negligence claims, a full range of negligence defenses may be available. That includes defenses like assumption of the risk and contributory negligence. Assumption of the risk often involves a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign. In this context, contributory negligence is a bit like provocation, but contributory negligence is easier to prove.

Negligence Per Se in Crow Wing County

Brainerd and other area municipalities typically have animal restraint laws. These laws require things like leashes when the dog is in public and fences on private property. If owners violate one of these laws, and that violation substantially causes injury, the owner may be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Once again, these claims are relatively easy for Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers to prove in court, at least for the most part. Victim/plaintiffs usually need only prove cause.

Typically, jurors award rather high damages in these cases, but not quite as high as they do in one bite claims. Additionally, Minnesota has a rather weak res ipsa loquitur rule. So, if no one witnessed the attack and the victim is unable to provide credible testimony for whatever reason, these claims could be difficult to prove.

Rely on an Experienced Attorney

Dog bite victims have several legal options. Each one has some pros and cons. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury claims.

Dog Bite Defenses and Brainerd Injury Lawyers

In 2018, homeowners insurance companies paid nearly $700 million in dog bite claims. This figure has increased substantially since 2005, mostly due to the nature of dog bite injuries.

When animals attack helpless victims, they generally lunge at victims and knock them to the ground. Then, dogs often cause multiple kinds of serious trauma injuries with their teeth and claws. So, a dog bite basically combines the injuries that people sustain in falls and car crashes. As a result, the medical bills alone are usually tens of thousands of dollars.

But there is more. Most dog bite victims suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms for several months, or even longer. These symptoms include an unnatural fear of all dogs as well as flashbacks of the attack. Symptoms like these make it difficult or impossible to function at work, school, or home.

Given the nature of these injuries, a Brainerd injury lawyer can usually obtain significant compensation in these cases. Since there is so much at stake, insurance company lawyers often pull out all the stops in an effort to reduce or deny compensation.

Your Claim for Damages

Many times, the best defense is a good offense. And, the Gopher State has very favorable laws in this area, so Brainerd injury lawyers have multiple options.

  • Strict Liability: Owners are generally liable for all animal attack damages whether or not they knew their animals were potentially dangerous. In strict liability claims, victim/plaintiffs do not have to prove fault or negligence. They only have to prove cause.
  • Scienter (Knowledge): Owners are also liable for damages if they knew the dog was potentially dangerous. Evidence of knowledge includes prior attacks on people or animals as well as pre-bite behavior, such as aggressive barking or baring of teeth.
  • Negligence Per Se: Brainerd and most other Minnesota cities have strict animal restraint rules, like leash laws and fence requirements. If the owner violated one of these laws, and that violation substantially caused injury, liability may attach.

These approaches often overlap, and there are pros and cons to each one. For example, if a dog bit Samir on Monday and then bit Michelle on Tuesday, Michelle could probably pursue either a strict liability or a scienter claim. The strict liability claim is easier to prove. But the scienter claim may yield higher damages, since the jury would hear about the dog’s viciousness and the owner’s callousness.

Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Provocation

Minnesota’s dog bite statute states that provocation is a defense in animal attack claims. If you ask dog owners, they would probably say “provocation” is a broad word which includes a number of different behaviors. Such acts might include sudden movements, approaching the dog, running away from the dog, and verbal teasing.

However, in this context, “provocation” has a much narrower meaning. First, provocation is always intentional. Things like running away from the dog are not intentionally provocative. Second, provocation is generally physical. In fact, in most cases, the victim must forcefully and repeatedly hurt the dog so badly that it must respond violently to make the pain stop.

Many victims, especially very young children, cannot provoke dogs as a matter of law. Their acts are almost always unintentional and almost always harmless.

The Assumption of the Risk Defense

Owners often post “Beware of Dog” and other such signs around their property. These signs do not immunize owners. Instead, they just make the assumption of the risk defense a bit easier to establish in court. This defense has two basic prongs:

  • Voluntary assumption of
  • A known risk.

Several factors often come into play here. There may be issues regarding the sign or its placement. If the sign was very small and the same color as the fence, the sign might not be visible. Additionally, if the sign is in the front yard and the attack occurred in the back yard, the victim could not have possibly seen the sign.

Additionally, there may be issues regarding the victim. The victim must have been able to read the sign and understand what it meant. Some people have limited reading and/or English skills, so doing either one of these things may be a problem.

Sign or no sign, the insurance company must prove both elements of the assumption of the risk defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Dog bite victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Anonymous Dog Mauls Minneapolis Woman

After a vicious animal attacked a woman in a tranquil park, she needs compensation and justice. These are the areas where Brainerd attorneys shine brightest.

Dawn Hunt said she saw the Jack Russell Terrier mix approach her. The animal was wearing a collar and dragging a leash on the ground. Without warning, the dog charged at her and attacked her. “I just kept getting bit and bit and bit, and I was left bleeding,” she recalled. Sometime during the attack, the dog’s owner came on the scene and took the animal away. When Ms. Hunt protested, the owner callously said “my dog doesn’t bite” as she disappeared into the woods.

Park Police and Animal Control officers are investigating the matter.

Hit-and-Run Dog Bites

Here in Minnesota, we normally associate these kinds of accidents with car crashes. The Gopher State has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country, as well as one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists. So, many drivers are either under-insured or uninsured.

To obtain maximum compensation in hit-and-run car crashes, Brainerd attorneys must generally locate the tortfeasor (negligent driver). A lawyer uses basically the same approach to find absentee dog owners. Canvassing the area for witnesses is usually the best way to find absentee owners.

Animal attacks usually happen very quickly. But most victims at least get a glimpse of the attacking animal. That slight bit of recognition is usually enough for Brainerd attorneys to locate owners. For various reasons, many people do not like talking to police officers about the accidents they witnessed. But these individuals are usually willing to share what they know about a vicious dog in the neighborhood.

The low burden of proof comes into play here. In civil court, victim/plaintiffs need only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a general description of the animal is usually enough to connect it with a certain individual, especially if the animal or owner has no alibi for the time of the attack.

Your Claim for Damages

Minnesota has an extremely broad dog bite law. It holds owners strictly liable for all injuries that victims sustain in animal attacks. These injuries include both physical and emotional wounds.

Physically, the serious injuries begin with the knockdown. That’s especially true if the victim is a small child or older person. When dogs lunge at their victims, the impact often causes head injuries and broken bones. Then, when dogs bite, they usually cause both deep puncture wounds and serious lacerations. These injuries usually require extensive surgical treatment and reconstructive operations.

Emotionally, many victims must deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. Once again, that’s especially true if the victim was an older person or young child. Many times, these symptoms include flashbacks, trouble sleeping, and an unnatural fear of all dogs. Although PTSD and other brain injuries are permanent, extensive therapy can reduce the symptoms.

Because of these injuries, and others like them, the average dog bite financial settlement has increased 94 percent since 2003. The escalation may be even higher in Minnesota, due to the aforementioned strict liability law.

In some cases, Brainerd attorneys base claims on the common law one-bite rule. This action, which is also known as scienter (knowledge), holds owners liable for damages if they knew the animal was potentially dangerous. In strict liability claims, such knowledge is probably irrelevant. But it’s at the center of a scienter claim.

These claims increase the potential for punitive damages. Whether they have pets at home or not, pretty much everyone dislikes irresponsible owners. If the victim/plaintiff presents clear and convincing evidence of recklessness, a Crow Wing County jury can award additional damages to punish the owner and deter future misconduct.

Brainerd Attorneys and Insurance Company Defenses

Given the immense amount of damages in these cases, insurance company lawyers usually pull out all the stops in their attempts to deny fair compensation.

The assumption of the risk defense is usually available in all dog bite claims. This defense excuses bad conduct if the victim:

  • Voluntarily assumed
  • A known risk.

This defense usually involves a “Beware of Dog” or other such warning sign. However, posting a sign does not conclusively establish assumption of the risk. It just makes this defense easier to prove. The doctrine does not apply unless the victim/plaintiff saw the sign, read the sign, and understood its meaning.

Sometimes, these efforts involve the provocation defense. This defense may not be available in strict liability claims, but it’s generally always available in scienter claims.

Sudden movements and aggressive teasing are not sufficient to invoke this defense in this context. Instead, provocation is almost synonymous with torture. The victim must inflict so much physical pain on the animal that the animal must respond violently.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Your claim for dog bite damages involves constructing a case and responding to insurance company defenses. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers Win Dog Bite Cases?

A few dog bites are just embarrassing. But for the most part, nothing else causes the kinds of physical and emotional injuries than an animal attack can cause.

Physically, dog bite injuries are a lot like car crash injuries. Both are incredibly varied. Animal knockdowns often cause broken bones and head injuries, especially if the victim is very young or very old. But the knockdown is just the beginning. When dogs bite, their jaws often create both deep puncture wounds and severe lacerations. Their claws often do the same thing.

All that physical trauma creates psychological trauma. Many dog bite victims must endure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms, such as flashbacks and heightened awareness, for months or years following the attack.

Due to the serious nature of these injuries, Brainerd personal injury lawyers have several procedural options. Dog bite victims are in the driver’s seat. In many cases, victim/plaintiffs need little evidence to collect money for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.

Minnesota’s Strict Liability Law

According to Section 347.22, animal owners are “liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained” if their dogs attack people. Victim/plaintiffs need not prove fault or negligence. They just need to prove cause.

Typically, homeowners’ insurance policies encompass unintentional injuries to third parties, such as dog bites. That’s an important point, because many homeowners are essentially judgment-proof.

As a matter of law, provocation is the only defense to strict liability claims. This doctrine is very limited. In the everyday world, “provocation” could mean sudden moves, teasing, or pretty much anything else that the targeted person perceives as threatening or hostile. But to a Brainerd personal injury lawyer, “provocation” essentially means physical torture. Anything less is insufficient, from a legal standpoint.

However, there is a downside to the strict liability law. Unless the dog was at the home and/or under the owner’s direct control, most homeowners’ insurance companies will deny coverage. Fortunately, Minnesota courts have made it clear that the strict liability law is not the exclusive remedy in these situations.

Scienter

This Latin word means “knowledge.” Scienter claims are an offshoot of the common law one-bite rule. Before the advent of strict liability laws like Section 347.22, Brainerd personal injury lawyers had to prove that the owner or custodian knew the animal was dangerous. Evidence of knowledge is usually either:

  • Prior attacks against animals or people, or
  • Aggressive action, such as barking or lunging, immediately before the attack.

Additionally, victim/plaintiffs must generally establish actual knowledge of dangerous propensities. Constructive knowledge, or should have known, is usually not enough. And, the viciousness must have been unprovoked. Only sudden attacks or out-of-the-blue aggressive growling put owners on notice that their animals are potentially dangerous.

So, scienter claims are much harder to establish in court than strict liability claims. But, the additional evidence often translates to bigger damages. In the minds of many Crow Wing County jurors, owners who know their dogs are dangerous yet do nothing to protect people are far worse than owners whose dogs literally go off the chain for a moment or two.

If the dog was with a temporary custodian, such as a veterinarian or doggie daycare, scienter is usually the way to go, even though the strict liability law may be applicable.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Negligence

Sometimes, the dog owner is a renter or a person with no liability insurance. In other cases, the tortfeasor (negligent actor) might be a teacher who allows her students to play with a strange dog.

These situations often involve a lack of ordinary care, and that means a negligence claim may be successful. Typically, people have a duty of reasonable care. If they breach that duty, and that breach substantially causes damages, the tortfeasor may be legally responsible.

Negligence also often means third-party liability. Vicarious liability gives victims an additional source of compensation. For example, employers, like a school district, are generally responsible for the negligent acts of their employees, such as schoolteachers. And, property owners are generally responsible for the unintentional injuries which occur on their property, assuming they knew about the danger.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Dog bite victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Dog Bite Damages

Nationwide, dogs bite about 4.5 million people a year. Roughly a fifth of these victims receive emergency room for their physical wounds. Many more seek psychological or other treatment for their mental wounds. Quality physical and mental healthcare costs money, and compensation is available for these expenses.

Noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, are much harder to calculate. Most Brainerd injury lawyers multiply the economic damages by three, four, or five, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.

Dog bite damages tend to be higher in Minnesota. The laws are extremely victim-friendly. Aside from the strict liability law, there are a number of other theories, such as negligence, which usually resonate with Crow Wing County jurors.

Economic Damages in Dog Bite Cases

Medical bills are usually the largest item in this category. Overall, after a brief drop after the Great Recession, medical inflation has crept up again.

Dog bite emergency care medical bills are usually quite high, and doctors must be highly skilled to treat these victims. When they bite, most dogs inflict both puncture and tearing wounds. Most trauma injuries are usually just one or the other. Due to the nature of these wounds, doctors usually need to not only treat the injuries but prepare the victim for reconstructive surgery. That’s a very tall order.

A Brainerd injury lawyer can connect victims with the top quality medical care they need. Attorneys have professional relationships with doctors. And these are not just any doctors. These physicians are experienced in dog bite cases. As a bonus, due to this prior relationship, attorney-referred doctors generally charge nothing upfront and lower their fees later on. So, victims don’t have to worry about medical bills. They just need to worry about getting better. And, when a Brainerd injury lawyer resolves the case, victims get to keep more of their settlement money.

The physical injuries are just part of the economic damage picture. Dog bite victims often suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has been around for a long time. In Act II Scene 3 of Henry IV, Part I, a 1597 William Shakespeare play, Lady Percy describes PTSD symptoms in her husband, who has just returned from war:

O my good lord, why are you thus alone?
For what offense have I this fortnight been
A banished woman from my Harry’s bed?
Tell me, sweet lord, what is ‘t that takes from thee
Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,
And start so often when thou sit’st alone?

The symptoms she describes (isolation, anger at family members, depression, sleeplessness, and heightened awareness) are common effects of PTSD.

PTSD is not a “disorder.” It’s a physical brain injury. Exposure to certain combat-like stress erodes the cerebral cortex, which controls logical responses. If that happens, the amygdala, which controls emotional responses, takes over.

Brain injuries are irreversible. Once the cerebral cortex shrinks, it never grows back. However, after extended physical therapy and counseling, neighboring uninjured areas of the brain might assume some of the lost functions. This process sounds painstakingly long, and it is painstakingly long.

Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Noneconomic Damages

As mentioned, tallying economic damages sometimes just means adding medical bills. Before a Brainerd injury lawyer can resolve the case, all this medical treatment must be at least substantially complete. Most settlements include waivers. So, there’s no way for a victim to get more money for additional medical expenses later.

To determine the amount of noneconomic damages, the victim’s own testimony is important. But many dog bite victims are young children who are not very good witnesses. Additionally, victims usually cannot see all the misery that their injuries cause. So, Brainerd injury lawyers need additional evidence, such as:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities (e.g. Sally quit band or Jose left the chess team),
  • Mobility issues which make it slightly more difficult to navigate stairs or get around in other ways, and
  • Embarrassment over physical scars.

Typically, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim presents and the amount of damages jurors award.

Additional Punitive Damages

Prior incidents plus serious injury equals more money. That straightforward formula works well in most punitive damages cases. These damages are designed to punish the animal owner and deter future wrongdoing.

In this context, the prior incident usually needs to be a prior attack on another person. That’s different from evidence of knowledge in negligence claims. In that context, a “prior incident” could be non-contact incidents, like baring teeth or aggressive barking. Likewise, serious injury usually means either wrongful death or a debilitating injury.

Legally, to obtain punitive damages, the victim must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that the owner intentionally disregarded a known risk.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Dog bite victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (218) 736-9429
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (320) 289-4761
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (952) 260-9640
Fax: 763-682-3330

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