Understanding Michigan Dog Bite Law - Lee Steinberg Law Firm

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Understanding Michigan Dog Bite Law

Michigan Dog Bites and Dog Attacks

Few things are more frightening than being attacked by a dog. A common type of personal injury, dog bites leave scars, both physical and emotional. In extreme cases, dog attacks can be fatal.
In 2012, Michigan ranked 12th in the nation in dog bites, with the number of dog bite incidents on the rise. Sadly, more than half of all dog bite victims are children.

Under the Michigan Dog Bite Laws, there are three theories of liability for injuries involving dogs.
• A person can bring a lawsuit under the Michigan Dog Bite Statute, MCL 287.351.
• A suit can be brought under Michigan common law strict liability.
• A plaintiff can bring a claim asserting basic negligence principals against the dog owner.

What is the Michigan Dog Bite Statute?

The Michigan Dog Bite Statute dates back to 1939 and states:
287.351 Person bitten by dog; liability of owner.
Sec. 1. (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.
In plain English, if you are bitten by a dog, unless you are trespassing or have provoked the dog, you have a claim and are entitled to compensation under the Michigan Dog Bite Statute. Where the dog bite occurred is secondary, if a dog bites you in your yard, at the dog park or in their owner’s yard, the owner is liable.
In addition, not all dog attacks involve being bitten, just like all dog bites do not break the skin. Being clawed or knocked down by a dog can also cause personal injury.

They Said I Provoked the Attack

Provocation, the main defense in dog bite cases is limited in scope and only successful in certain circumstances. Provocation need not be intentional to be used as a defense, meaning the defendant can use it even if the dog bite victim did not mean to provoke the animal.

What is the Free Bite Rule?

There is no free bite rule in Michigan. Just because a dog has never bitten anyone before doesn’t mean the owner isn’t liable for their dog’s actions.

Who Pays for Dog Bite Related Expenses?

A dog bite victim’s monetary damages are recoverable through the dog owner’s homeowners insurance. Juries take into account your physical injuries, your medical bills, your emotional distress and the impact the dog bite attack had on your ability to earn a living when awarding settlements.

Dog bites can be very emotional, for both the victim and the dog owner. At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C., we have handled hundreds of dog bite claims, recovering millions in settlements for dog bite victims.

For 40 years, the Lee Steinberg Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of Michigan dog bite victims, getting them the services and settlement they deserve. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Metro Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Grand Blanc, Flint, Saginaw or Traverse City, we will work on your behalf to recover full and fair compensation.

Contact our team of experienced Michigan dog bite attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733), we approaches each case with specialized knowledge of Michigan dog bite law.