When Filing a Dog Bite Report, You Have Legal Options

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Legal Action You Can Take When Reporting a Dog Bite

bitten by a dog in michigan

Key Points of This Article:

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says one in every 69 people will be bit by a dog, and Michigan frequently ranks in the top 10 states for a high number of individuals reporting a dog bite each year.
  • Any dog breed can bite or attack someone, especially if their history, upbringing, and temperament have been altered by abuse and neglect, and extreme carelessness by the dog’s owner.
  • Common dog bite injuries include infection, puncture wounds, bone fractures, scarring, nerve damage, facial trauma, and pain and suffering.
  • In addition to assuming liability, a dog owner may also be responsible for reimbursing the injured person for damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages and be faced with fines and the courts could order the destruction of the dangerous animal.

What To Do After a Michigan Dog Bite Attack

Dogs can be incredibly gentle family pets. But the sad reality is, even man’s best friend can unexpectedly bite, turn dangerous and hurt someone. And what we have learned from recent tragedies in Detroit, Mid-Michigan, and Kalamazoo is that the emotional damage and physical injuries from a dog bite or dog mauling can last forever. Unfortunately, dog bite victims are left to endure painful plastic surgeries, permanent scarring, and psychiatric traumas, and post-traumatic stress as a result. And under extreme circumstances, a severe dog bite can even result in death. 

Data provided by the Humane Society of The United States and the American Veterinary Medical Association shows:

  • In 2018, there were approximately 4.7M dog bites and 36 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities.
  • More than 800,000 of those bites required medical care. 
  • More than 50% of dog attacks happen at home with dogs familiar to the victims.
  • Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten. 
  • Adult men are more likely to be bitten than adult women.
  • An estimated 51% of dog bite victims are children.
  • The rate of dog bites for children is highest between the ages of 5-9.
  • Chained and tethered dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite or attack.

While any dog breed can become aggressive and attack, from 2005 through 2019, American bulldogs and mixed breeds contributed to over 80% of 521 dog bite fatalities in America.

Michigan Dog Owners Have a Legal Responsibility to Keep Others Safe from Attacks

Owners should always ensure that their dog is leashed correctly and kept from free-range of neighbors, pedestrians, bicyclists, guests, and others. Michigan dog bite laws can sound confusing, but failure to follow the state’s law can lead to fines and civil damages.

  1. A person can bring a lawsuit under the Michigan dog bite statute, MCL 287.351 in an unprovoked attack.
  2. A person can file a lawsuit under Michigan common law strict liability. 
  3. A person can file a lawsuit asserting basic negligence principals against the dog owner. The principal defendant in most Michigan dog bite and Michigan dog attack cases is the dog owner.

The Michigan dog leash law, MCL 287.262, also requires all dogs 6 months or older to be licensed and wear a collar and tag approved by the director of agriculture. You can also learn more about Michigan’s Dog Bite Laws and the “No Free Bite” rule here.

These laws provide strict liability on the dog owner’s part, meaning proving negligence may not even be necessary. This is true, regardless of whether a dog has a history of biting or not.

Follow These Steps If Injured by A Dog in Michigan

At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C., our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you with reporting a dog bite and we have handled hundreds of Michigan dog bite claims. If you find yourself attacked or bitten by a dog, follow these steps to ensure your best chance for physical, mental, and financial recovery.

  1. Call the local authorities. The police will make sure animal control is aware of the attack and document it. If your injuries are serious enough, first responders can also help at this time. The police will also take statements of those involved, including the dog’s owner, and create a report with their name and address. Other information will be provided and specific about the dog (age, breed, name, history of dog bites, health, etc.).
  2. Follow-up with your doctor. Because nearly one out of every five dog bites will become infected with bacteria from the dog’s mouth, you will want to seek testing and treatment as soon as possible. Proper wound treatment is essential to prevent secondary infection. The American Academy of Family Physicians says these are the most common infections caused by dog bites. 
  3. Rabies
  4. Capnocytophaga 
  5. Pasteurella 
  6. MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) 
  7. Tetanus 
  8. Keep injury notes. Document any pain, medications, medical visits and procedures, and disruptions to your daily activities, family life and employment due to the dog bite. Take photographs of your injuries and any scarring of your injuries or as a result of treatments.
  9. Consult with a Michigan dog bite attorney and make a claim. Homeowners’ insurers paid $675M in dog bite and dog injury-related liability claims in 2018, and the average cost per dog bite claim was around $39,000. Even if you are still healing or unsure of your chances of winning a claim, call 1-800-LEE-FREE for legal support. We will review your Michigan dog bite or dog attack case at no charge.

We represent a wide variety of dog bite victims, including utility workers, postal workers and delivery drivers, children, parents, and seniors. We have helped our clients recover millions for medical bills, puncture wounds, bone fractures, scarring, nerve damage, facial trauma, and pain and suffering.

Call a Michigan Dog Attack and Dog Bite Expert for Help

The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. has Michigan dog bite lawyers and legal teams based in Southfield, Flint, Saginaw, and Detroit, and we can come to you to hear your story and help gather the facts. You will pay nothing until we settle your Michigan dog bite or Michigan dog attack case.

Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733), and we can get started in answering any questions you may have about Michigan dog bite and Michigan dog attack law. Let us help you today.

Video Transcript

I personally have handled dozens and dozens, and probably hundreds of dog bite claims over the years. It’s important to let animal control know about the bite as well as the local police. That way the police will take statements both of you and the dog owner to get the right story about what happened. It also will provide an attorney like me with the name and address of the dog owner. You’ll usually get information about the dog, how old the dog is, the breed, that you wouldn’t probably be able to, the name of the dog, somebody wouldn’t be able to get necessarily from the owner. So call the local authorities and make sure animal control is aware of what happened.

After a dog bite, we don’t know if the dog is up to date on shots. If the dog isn’t up to date on shots, you’ve got to get a rabies vaccination; which is painful, I hate to say it. It’s a painful shot. Usually, a series of shots take place over a couple of weeks. Take photographs of the scarring. See the doctor after the attack as well. I have seen so many cases of people putting off treatment following a dog bite only to have a severe infection result. I mean, you got to get an antibiotic started really as quickly as possible following the dog bite. Go to the local urgent care, go to the hospital, see your doctor after a dog bite. You don’t want to make a small bite into a major infection and medical problems.

Under Michigan law, there’s also no free bite rule. So let’s say this dog bites you and has never attacked anybody in the past. In some states, you would need a history of attacking to go file a claim. Not in Michigan. So long as you didn’t provoke the attack and weren’t trespassing, you can file a claim for pain and suffering compensation, your medical bills, lost wages, all damages against the dog owner because of the dog attack. And it’s not a matter of negligence. They are strictly liable for any damages that accrue from the dog bite following the attack, so long as you didn’t provoke the attack. So it doesn’t matter what the breed is, the law is pretty clear on this.

If a dog was not leashed properly, there’s a leash law. And that’s another violation in evidence of negligence under Michigan law if the dog was running around and not properly leashed. So those are the two common cases, two big common causes of action, as you can say, against dog owners. And give our office a call at 1-800-LEE-FREE. We handle dog bite cases on a daily basis, and we’re here to help.