Does Minnesota have a ‘one free dog bite’ rule? The answer is no. If a dog bites a person unprovoked, regardless of whether it is partially the person’s fault, the dog owner is responsible for the damages to the person. This is harsh, but is our law.
What happens if your dog charges out of his/her home and bites a person walking in the street? The dog owner is strictly liable for the damages to the person.
However, it may get worse, if the owner knew the dog would bite or charge out into the street, the owner had a duty to keep the front door locked. That is called taking reasonable care. If the owner failed to take reasonable care, then the person bitten may in addition to the dog bite statute, recover damages under the law of negligence. This does not mean double damages, but it may mean punitive damages if the negligence was extreme, such as the dog owner was passed out drunk and left a dangerous dog loose in his house with an unlocked front door.
To add to the problem, some homeowner’s insurance companies refuse to offer liability insurance to homeowners that own dogs they consider dangerous. What to do? Keep your doggy under control at all times.