July 9, 2019

Michigan Dog Owner Liability Under Michigan Law

Dogs, as the saying goes, are often man’s best friend. Sometimes, however, they become man’s household liability. Some incidents may even necessitate the aid of a dog bite lawyer.

If you’re concerned about a dog owner’s liability in the state of Michigan, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for a no obligation consultation.

Dog owners are only liable under specific and certain circumstances

Dog owners are not liable for dog bites in all circumstances or situations. For instance, if someone teases, provokes, or purposefully angers a dog to force the dog to bite them, they are simply not entitled to claim compensation from the dog’s owner. That would be unfair to both the owner and the dog. If the situation is unclear–if it is unsure whether or not the dog was provoked–then it might be useful to seek the advice of a dog bite lawyer or a medical attorney.

Statute of Limitations

A dog owner cannot be held responsible for a potential dog bite accusation indefinitely. In Michigan, you have three years from the date of the bite to file for a lawsuit. Unless you file before the three-year mark, your case will not be heard. It’s best to file as soon as possible to ensure the court hears your case. To ensure the maximal success of your plea, seek the aid of top personal injury lawyers at our law firm.

Dog Bite Statute

The exact details of Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute are as follows. According to Act 73 of 1939, 287.351, Section 1, an owner is only liable if:

(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 other words…

In layman’s terms, the dog owner is liable for damages resulting from a dog bite if and only if:

  • The dog was not provoked
  • The victim was bitten while on public land or lawfully on private property

According to Michigan law, being lawfully on someone’s private property means that you weren’t trespassing at any point. If you were on someone’s private property while legally delivering a package, performing government offices, or were invited or legally permitted on land by the owner of the relevant property, you were not trespassing.

However, as the above act states, if you gained permission to be on private property in order to commit an illegal or criminal act, the owner is not responsible for any resulting dog bite.

Strict Liability

This means that Michigan is a strict liability state, which means that a dog owner cannot avoid legal ramifications by simply claiming they didn’t know their dog had the potential to be vicious. If the dog bite fulfills the above qualifications, the owner is responsible, and a victim would be strongly advised to pursue justice and compensation.

Pursue Justice

Ensure you are compensated in the event of an unlawful dog bite by seeking the help of a qualified and experienced dog bite lawyer. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have a 24-hour, toll-free line that can help you receive the support and legal advice that you deserve. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529).

Tim is a writer and editor who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Maryland and calls Washington, D.C., home after spending most of his adult life in the country’s capital. Although Tim spent most of his post-college years in the restaurant industry, he became interested in writing about legal matters after he recently moved to Colombia. Today, Tim writes professionally about medical malpractice, drug policies, and workplace injuries. Tim is focused on curating his freelancing career and plans to work remotely for as long he can.

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