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Michigan Dog Bite Injury Laws and Owner Liability

Bitten by a dog? You may be able to recover damages from the dog’s owner if you can prove liability.

Michigan Dog Bite Injury Laws & Owner Liability Rules

Since 1939, Michigan has had a strict liability statute (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. sec. 287.351) in place that says, among other things, that in order to prove that a dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the injury was caused by a particular dog, that the person bitten did not provoke the dog, and that the incident happened in a public place, or the person was lawfully on private property, when the bite occurred.

Proving Liability To Recover Damages

There are several helpful things to do in the immediate aftermath of the dog bit incident that are important for your health and safety as well as your insurance claim.

  • Get Medical Attention. If someone calls 911, don’t refuse treatment from the paramedics. If the paramedic or police officer on the scene wants you to go to the hospital, go with them to the hospital. If you don’t go to an emergency room to receive initial evaluation and treatment, see your doctor or go to an urgent care center as soon as you can. When a dog bites a person, even if stitches aren’t necessary, disease and infections can result if not treated appropriately.
    Receiving medical attention also is proof that the dog bite happened. Tell every person who treats you about the incident, and how you were attacked. Describe the dog and the owner as best you can. This creates the legal link between medical treatment and the dog attack that is necessary when negotiating a settlement.
  • Report The Incident To Animal Control Authorities. Report the dog attack to the local animal control authority, which in Michigan are mostly county-based. Some municipalities and larger cities, like Detroit, have their own. If you are treated by a doctor, Michigan law requires health professionals to report a dog bite to public health and animal control authorities. Dogs of all sizes and pedigrees can carry rabies and other diseases. The local animal control office has the authority to have the animal/dog tested for rabies, which is an important precaution for your health, and the safety and health of the wider community.
  • Get Information About the Dog Owner. At the very least, you must the name and address of the dog owner, their contact information, and their insurance company. If the dog owner rents, try to get the same information for the landlord, too.

Get Legal Help

Sometimes when people are injured by a dog bite, or any other animal, they hesitate to bring legal action against the animal’s owner because they don’t want to cause financial hardship for the dog owner. In most cases, however, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company is the one who pays when a claim is filed, and there is no direct adverse economic impact for the dog owner.

Michigan dog bite laws are clear about liability, and the owner of the dog only has two defenses to a dog bite claim: provocation and trespassing on the owner’s property.

The owner may not be liable for any damages if they can prove that the dog was provoked, or if the person bitten was not on public property or “lawfully” on private property.

A dog bite lawyer can help you understand the dog bite rules and regulations in Michigan, or anywhere in the United States, and who can be held liable for your injuries.

Calculating Damages

Gather all your medical bills, receipts, and get a lost wage statement from your employer. Your hard costs related to the dog bite are called special damages. Include everything you can think of, including counseling/therapy, transportation to appointments, and any out-of-pocket expenses.

If the dog bite has negatively impacted your life in other ways and affected your performance or any duty or duties, you are also entitled to ask for general damages. These damages include emotional trauma and the effects of the dog bite and treatment on your daily life.

Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, special damages and general damages can add up to a significant sum. The amount of your personal injury settlement will be determined by how well you can document your special damages and how convincingly you can illustrate and demonstrate your general damages.

The professionals at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have helped individuals and families throughout the state of Michigan to fully understand their legal options when bitten by a dog or other animal, and then help them recover damages and compensation for their injuries and other losses.

Contact us toll-free (24 hours) for a no obligation consultation at (866)-755-9502 or use our convenient online contact form.

Mark is a freelance writer living near Concord, New Hampshire. He works with a range of businesses and professional associations in their strategic messaging and content development projects. He also provides content development services to nonprofits and government agencies, helping them distill complex topics and make information more accessible across multiple platforms. When he’s not writing, he enjoys working outside and finds mowing his fields on a warm sunny day to be a peak experience.

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