Dogs are considered man’s best friends, and loving pet owners often go out of their way to make sure they provide the best love and care possible. But the reality is that these four legged friends are still animals, and animals can act unpredictably even in the best of circumstances. So even if a dog seems to be well trained, it can still act violently. Does that mean the owner of a generally well-behaved animal can still be held responsible for another person’s dog bite injury?

There are some misconceptions about when a dog owner is responsible for his or her pet’s actions. Some people in Minnesota think that if a dog had not displayed any violent or aggressive tendencies prior to the attack, then the owner cannot be held legally responsible. Others believe that liability only occurs in private spaces, such as one’s home.

Under Minnesota state law, a dog owner is liable if his or her pet bites or injures a victim where he or she is lawfully permitted to be. This includes public spaces, such as parks or the sidewalk. An owner may not be liable if the victim is somewhere unlawfully or is not acting peacefully.

It does not matter whether a dog has displayed violent tendencies before or has always been a calm, gentle animal. This is because it only takes one bite to alter some people’s lives forever. From permanent scarring and pain to hefty medical bills and emotional distress, surviving a dog bite is a traumatic experience. Securing just compensation from negligent dog owners can be key to addressing that trauma.