Who Is Responsible in Michigan for Dog Bites?

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Who Pays For A Dog Bite Injury in Michigan?

dog bite injury

Dog attacks are becoming more and more prevalent in Michigan. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are about 84 million dogs now in the United States. About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with children the most common victims. Michigan is a top 10 state for reported dog bite cases. But who pays for dog bite injuries following an attack. A Michigan dog bite lawyer can help you and your family get full compensation for the injuries. But who pays for these injuries?

Who Pays for Dog Bites in Michigan?

In short, the dog owner is responsible for the injuries that occur to a person. Under Michigan law, so long as the dog was not provoked and the victim was not trespassing, the dog owner is liable for all scarring, injuries, medical bills and lost wages from a dog attack. Michigan has a strict liability statute, meaning the victim does not even have to show negligence.

In reality, homeowners insurance covers the dog owner and pays the costs related to a dog hurting someone. Almost all homeowners insurance policies cover dog attacks. However, if you own a home and have a dog, you should make sure the insurance company knows this.  

What does Homeowners Insurance Cover for a Dog Bite Attack?

Homeowners insurance covers specific things that result from a dog bite attack. First, it covers the pain and suffering the dog caused to the injured person. It also covers medical expenses like hospital bills and doctor bills.

If a lawsuit is filed against you because of the attack, the homeowners insurance will supply you with a lawyer to defend the case. This means you don’t pay the lawyers yourself. Instead, the insurance carrier agrees to “defend and indemnify” the dog owner for the attack. In many situations, homeowners insurance will also pay for the property damage the dog causes to another person. This can include injury to another dog and the payment of vet bills.

An experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer can help you set up an insurance claim and get these things paid for after an attack.

What is Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

However, homeowners insurance does not pay for everything. For example, it does not cover damages your own dog causes to your own property or family members. So if your dog bites another person in your household, homeowners insurance does not pay for the medical bills.

In addition, homeowners insurance does not pay for property damage caused by the family dog. This exclusion is in all insurance policies. So if your dog chews up a bed or couch, the homeowners insurance does not have to reimburse you for this damage.

Homeowners insurance also does not cover normal injuries or illnesses your dog suffers. It doesn’t cover surgeries, vet bills, MRIs or other medical needs for a dog. However, pet insurance does cover many of these situations and has become a more popular option for dog owners.

Does Michigan Have a One Bite Rule for Dogs?

No. Some states have a one bite rule, first bite rule or “one free bite rule” for dog bite cases. This means if the dog has not previously bit another person or animal, then it is presumed the dog owner was not aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior. Because the owner lacked this a victim cannot sue the dog owner for injuries. In other words, a dog gets one free bite, and after that, the owner is aware of the dog’s dangerous propensities and is responsible for further attacks.

Michigan has no such rule. Even if a dog is sweet and never attacked anyone before, in Michigan a dog owner is responsible for the first bite. This is because under the Michigan dog bite statute, a dog owner is liable for any damages that come from the dog bite. The only defenses are provocation and trespassing.  

Is a Landlord Liable for a Dog Bite in Michigan?

In general, landlords are not responsible for the dog bite attacks that occur on their property. Instead, the liability flows from the dog owner. That is why it is important to have renters’ insurance if you are a renter and own a dog. The landlord is not generally responsible for what your does.

However, like most things in the law there are certain exceptions when landlords can be held responsible for dog bite injuries. First, the landlord must be aware that a dangerous dog resides at a property they rent out. If the landlord has no idea about the dangerous propensities of the dog, then the landlord cannot be found responsible for an attack.

Second, even if the landlord knows a dangerous dog is staying on a property, the landlord is given time to have the tenant remove the animal. This grace period is not set in stone, but typically a judge will give the landlord at least a month to have a dog removed.

Third, the attack must occur on the landlord’s property. If the attack occurred in a nearby park or on someone else’s property, it is very difficult to extend liability to the landlord.

There can be other situations when a landlord can be held responsible for the injuries a tenant’s dog causes to another person. That is why it is important to consult with a great Michigan dog bite attorney and law firm if you have sustained serious injuries from a dog bite attack.

Can You Sue for A Minor Dog Bite?

Yes. In Michigan, even minor dog bites can be compensated so long as a person suffered a personal injury. In these situations, a lawsuit not always necessary.

Often your dog bite injury lawyer can help settle the claim directly with the insurance adjuster. But it is important to hire an aggressive dog bite injury attorney to represent your interests. Otherwise, the homeowners insurance company will try to short change you and underpay. 

Ways to Avoid a Dog Attack and Dog Bite Prevention

Dogs bring an incredible amount of joy and love to a family. But it is important to make sure everyone stays safe because they can become violent and dangerous. Here are recommended tips to avoid dog bites:

  • Make sure your dog is socialized. Dogs that stay inside all day and are not socialized to people or other animals can become very defensive. They also become protective of their owners when visitors come
  • Make sure your dog has some training. All dogs should be trained to follow simple commands. An owner must be able to verbally gain control of their pet before something bad happens.
  • Take time to constantly train your dog. Just because your dog, even if a puppy, gets trained doesn’t mean it can fall back into old habits. Consistently work with your dog on sitting, staying, obeying commands and give it positive feedback.
  • If your dog appears nervous or excited, move the dog to another area. If you are at home and your dog appears unusually nervous or anxious due to a visitor, put the dog in another room or a pen. The dog will feel more at ease anyway.
  • Be careful around other people’s dogs. We don’t know the history of particular dog we are meeting. It’s best to be cautious. Don’t start petting the dog or moving your face close to the dog without first discussion and getting permission from the owner.
  • Sometimes dogs just want to be left alone. If a dog is ignoring your advances or appears anxious, it may be best to just leave it be.  

Call a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer for Help

The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. has Michigan dog bite lawyers and legal teams based throughout Michigan. We come to you and hear your story and help gather the facts. You 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.