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Michigan Dog Bite Accident FAQ

Lee Steinberg Law Firm: Michigan Dog Bite Accident Lawyers

Our law firm gets a lot of questions and a lot of calls about Michigan dog bite cases.

The Michigan dog bite law is fairly simple. Under the law, a dog bite owner is statutorily liable for damages that arise from their dog biting a person. If a person is bit by a dog, that person can sue the owner for any damages that accrue from the dog bite, so long as (1) the dog wasn’t provoked, and (2) the person wasn’t trespassing on the dog owner’s property. 

In Michigan there are special circumstances in which pet owners, especially dog owners, are liable for bites and injuries caused by their animal. Dog attacks can be a traumatic experience, especially for young children. All victims deserve to be compensated for their medical bills, scarring and pain and suffering. The Lee Steinberg Law Firm at 1-800-LEE-FREE are the Michigan dog bite lawyer experts. 

Our experienced team of Michigan dog bite accident lawyers are dedicated to fighting to get you the money you deserve. Our Michigan dog attack lawyers have been representing individuals bit by dogs for over 40 years.

We stay up to date on all the latest news and case law that may affect Michigan residents. Our law firm has written extensively on the subject. Read about dog bite tips, laws, rulings, cases, and stories on our blog

Click on one of our Frequently Asked Questions about dog bite cases and dog attacks, and please call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) if you would like a free consultation. You may also fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about Michigan dog bite and Michigan dog attack law.

The Michigan dog bite law is covered by statute. The Michigan dog bite statute is MCL 287.351, and describes the liability of a dog owner when a dog bite occurs. The statute is the following:

(1) If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

(2) A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner’s property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner’s property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act.

Simply put, a person is entitled to compensation from the dog owner when a dog bite occurs so long as (1) the dog was not provoked and (2) the injured person was not trespassing on the dog owner’s property. The dog bite statute is a strict liability statute. This means the dog owner is liable for any and all damages that accrue from when a dog bites a person, without regard to fault.

Unlike other dog bite laws in the United States, there is no “free bite” rule. A dog owner can be held responsible for the injuries their dog causes even if their dog had never bit or attacked before.

The dog bite statute only covers situations where a dog bites a person. It does not pertain to dog knock down situations.

Under the Michigan dog bite law, the dog bite victim is entitled to all damages that arise out of the dog bite attack. This can include the payment for all medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, loss of society and emotional distress. Dog bite victims are also entitled to compensation for scarring and physical disfigurement that occurs as a result of the dog bite.

Typically, the larger the scarring and the longer the scarring from a dog bite is visible, the higher the value of the case. There are time limits in making a Michigan dog bite or dog attack claim. This is called the statute of limitations, so it is important to contact a lawyer and protect your legal rights. It is important to call Michigan dog bite accident lawyers as soon as possible. 

Yes, you can sue the dog owner for negligence if the dog owner did not take reasonable precautions in controlling the dog where it was foreseeable that injury could occur. If the dog owner fails to exercise ordinary care to control or restrain the animal to prevent foreseeable harm, the dog owner breached his or her duty to the injured person. In those situations, a dog attack victim may make a negligence claim.

Negligence cases entail a detailed investigation into how the dog attack occurred and why it occurred. It is important a local animal control agency is informed of the attack as well as the police department. That way, witness statements can be taken, and proper civil citations given to the dog owner. This evidence can be used dog bite law firm later to help prove your case.

The homeowner’s insurance company for the dog owner pays the dog bite claim. Under Michigan law, the owner of the dog is liable for all damages that result from the dog bite attack. Even if a dog did not bite but attacked an individual causing injury, the owner or possessor of the dog would be responsible for paying the claim if negligence is found. The homeowner’s insurance company is responsible for paying the negligence claim too.

Unfortunately, dog training experts agree that nearly all dogs are capable of biting, even the good, trained ones. A dog bite or dog attack can occur for several reasons, including excitement, fear and even dominance. Dog owners have the responsibility to keep their dog under control. The principal defendant in most Michigan dog bite and dog attack cases is the dog owner.

Besides the dog bite statute and negligence by the dog owner, another way a dog owner can be found liable for a Michigan dog bite or dog attack is through a common law strict liability claim.

Under the common law, a dog owner is strictly liable for damages done by the dog only if he or she knows or has reason to know of the dog’s vicious nature. The dog owner is responsible for injuries from their dog under common law strict liability (1) if the dog owner is the possessor of the dog, (2) the dog owner has knowledge of the dog’s abnormal dangerous propensities, and (3) injury results from the dangerous propensity that was known or should have been known.

Proving that the owner knew their dog had a dangerous propensity typically means showing the dog had previously attacked another person or other dogs. Just because a dog barks or shows its teeth at times does not mean the dog demonstrates dangerous propensities.

But if the owner knew the dog had previously attacked, or if the dog had been cited by a city or township because of some type of dangerous activity, the dog owner can be held accountable for a dog attack through a common law strict liability case. Again, owner knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities is key.

Experienced Michigan dog bite accident lawyers can answer your questions and make sure you receive righteous compensation for your injuries.   

The Michigan Leash Law had been around in various forms for close to 100 years. Under the law, which is found within MCL 287.262, no dog owner shall allow his or her dog to stray unless held properly in leash. In practice this applies to dogs that are not on the owner’s property.

The Michigan Leash Law is another way to prove negligence on the part of a dog owner for a dog bite or dog attack.

Under Michigan law, a dog “owner” is specifically defined by MCL 287.261(2)(c). This law defines a dog owner when applied to the proprietorship of a dog as “every person having a right of property in the dog, and every person who keeps or harbors the dog or has it in his care, and every person who permits the dog to remain on or about any premises occupied by him.”

A dog possessor can also be held responsible for the acts of their dog. Since the 19th century, under Michigan common law, a possessor of a domestic animal has been interpreted to encompass an “owner” a “keeper.” A keeper of a dog has had sufficient custody and control of the dog for enough time to assess whether the dog presents an abnormal risk to the community.

Dog ownership is not as simple as who is listed on the animal’s registration papers with the city. Ownership can take on different forms. Responsibility for a dog bite or dog attack can fall on different people. Michigan dog bite accident lawyers that have handled hundreds of dog bite cases throughout the state can help answer your questions.

Obtaining money compensation after a dog bite attack entails painting a specific and detailed picture for the insurance company. The insurance carrier must understand the trauma and damages that occurred following the attack.

Medical records should be presented to the insurance carrier so they can understand in detail the exact treatment that was required following the attack. Medical records will also demonstrate the severity of the injury, the diagnosis offered by treating doctors and the prognosis for recovery. 

Medical bills and medical liens should also be forwarded so the insurance company and trier of fact can understand the economic damages the dog bite victim incurred after the bite. Detailed scarring photos should be taken on multiple occasions over time. This way the insurance company can appreciate the permanent scars that were left because the vicious attack.

All of these different items are important in a presentation of damages following a dog bite attack. A plastic surgeon can be retained to provide insight into how long scarring may last and how much a revision surgery would cost. 

There is a certain time limit a victim has to file a lawsuit in court in a personal injury case. A dog bite case is no different. This is called the statute of limitations.

In general, in almost all cases involving an adult, the adult victim in Michigan has three (3) years from the date of the attack to file a lawsuit against the proper defendants. If the dog bite victim fails to file a lawsuit during this time, he or she can forever loses their right to receive compensation for their injuries from the defendants.

The statute of limitations for a minor or child is different. Under Michigan law, ordinarily a child has until they turn 19 years-old to file a lawsuit for personal injuries resulting from a dog bite or dog attack. The 3-year statute of limitations is stopped, or “tolled” for minors.

Experienced and Aggressive Michigan Dog Bite Accident Lawyers

If you have any questions about a dog attack situation, or about the Michigan dog bite law in general, please give us a call at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) so we can answer your questions.

Our firm has helped Michigan dog bite victims obtain tens of millions in compensation. The consultation is free and there is no fee unless we win your case.