Whether in their houses, yards, parks, or other private or public property, dog owners are responsible for keeping their pets under control and always secured. If a dog bites you in Michigan, the dog owner may be considered negligent and held responsible for the damages you’ve suffered.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, as per a report by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Dog bite injuries can vary drastically, from having minor scratches to getting infected with a life-threatening disease like rabies.
While the law lets you sue a dog owner if their pet attacks you, knowing how you can litigate is important. This article will give an overview of the laws regarding dog bite attacks. Additionally, we’ll explain why hiring Michigan dog bite injury lawyers is essential if you’ve been attacked.
Dog Bite and Leash Laws in Michigan
Michigan has a specific set of personal injury laws that address dog bite incidents and other injuries caused by dogs or pets, especially pertaining to liability. Below we’ve mentioned a few dog bite and leash laws you should know about:
What Are the Elements of a Dog Bite?
In Michigan, pet owners are held responsible for the actions of their pets. To prove that the dog owner is liable for any dog bite injuries under the law, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- A dog bite caused an injury.
- The victim or the person bitten did not do anything to provoke the animal.
- The injured individual was in a public place or lawfully on private property when the dog attack happened (this includes the property of the dog owner).
A person is considered to be lawfully on someone’s property if they were there to serve a duty or were invited by the property owner. Also, you must know that in order to qualify your case under the dog bite laws, you must prove that a bite caused the injuries.
Understanding Michigan Leash Law
According to Michigan law (MCL 287.262), dog owners should leash their pets when not on their private premises, such as when roaming in parks or walking along sidewalks. The law also states that the dog owner will be liable for negligence if their unleashed dog bites someone or causes any other type of injury by attacking people.
An individual who has sustained injuries due to a dog bite may be entitled to a rebuttable presumption of negligence if the pet owner allowed their dog off leash and violated the law.
Understanding Michigan Dog Bite Laws
In Michigan, there are multiple laws related to dog bites and pet attacks. It is important for the victims to understand these laws in order to file a lawsuit against the pet owner for negligence.
Under this statute, the pet owner is responsible for the injuries caused by their dog, regardless of the owner’s knowledge of their pet’s dangerous tendencies. The liability statute is specifically applicable if the incident happened on public property or private premises (if the victim was lawfully present on the property).
The only exception under this law is when the victim provoked the dog or was trespassing on the property without the owner’s consent. Under this statute, any negligence is no defense on the victim’s part.
Common Law Liability
Besides seeking recovery, such as financial compensation for the medical bills stemming from the dog bite, victims of dog attacks can also seek compensation for monetary damages (including lost wages) under the common law.
The law, however, requires the victim to prove that the owner’s negligence caused the incident and that the owner knew their pet had bitten someone.
Dangerous Dog Statute
First, you should understand what a “dangerous dog” is to understand this statute better. According to the law, a dog is considered dangerous if it bites or attacks a person. Furthermore, if it bites or attacks another dog and causes serious injuries or death, the law considers it “dangerous.”
Under this statute, a dangerous dog does not include an animal that attacks or bites a trespasser, a dog that bites a person who torments or provokes the animal, or a dog that responds as per its instinct when it senses danger from someone.
If the jury declares a dog “dangerous” because it caused severe injuries or death to an individual or another dog, the court of law may order the dog be to put down. Also, the jury may order the dog to be put down under the dangerous dog statute depending on the dog’s aggression and behavior toward the people around him.
The Michigan laws regarding dog bites and attacks can be complicated. A Michigan dog bite lawyer from The Lobb Law Firm can help you file a case against the pet owner if you have sustained injuries due to a dog bite.
Our professional Michigan dog bite injury attorneys will use the best of their legal knowledge to help you calculate the damages and recover fair compensation from the other party. Call us at 248-591-4090 for a free case evaluation and to book an appointment with the finest personal injury lawyers in Michigan.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Dog Bite Case?
A statute of limitations refers to the timeframe or the time limit you get for filing a claim. In Michigan, the victim gets three (3) years to file a complaint against the pet owner for injuries sustained in a dog bite attack. However, in certain cases, this time limit can be extended for a greater amount of time. For example, if the dog bites and injures a minor child, the individual gets an extended time limit of until their 19th birthday. Additionally, if a dog attacks a minor child, then the parents can file a case on behalf of the victim.
If the victim dies from the attack, then the family gets an extended time to file a case.
Different Circumstances of Dog Bites and the Penalties for the Owner
In a state like Michigan, the penalties and punishments for dog owners depend on several factors. In some situations, the owner can get away with paying a fine of $2,000, while in other cases, the person may be charged with a felony.
Below is a breakdown of different circumstances and the penalties for dog owners:
Circumstance 1: If the Dog Causes Serious Injuries to a Human or Other Dog
According to the law, the owner of the dog is guilty of a felony and can receive a sentence of up to 4 years imprisonment if their pet attacks someone and injures them badly. The jury may also impose a fine of no less than $2,000 or community service of at least 500 hours.
In extreme cases, the jury may order a combination of these penalties. Serious injuries here mean disfigurement, severe impairment of bodily function, and other severe injuries caused by the bite.
Circumstance 2: If the Owner Lets a Dangerous Dog Run at Large
If the animal was previously adjudicated as “dangerous” and is set free by its owner, it violates the leash laws and may attract a penalty of at least $250. Also, the owner can be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by jail time for no more than 3 months. Some other penalties might include community service for no less than 240 hours.
Circumstance 3: If the Dog Was Previously Found Dangerous and Attacked Someone Again
If the dog was previously found “dangerous” and it again bites someone or causes injuries that are not serious, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor and the court can punish them with a jail time of up to 90 days, along with a fine of no more than $500. The penalty can also include community service for at least 240 hours.
Circumstance 4: If the Dog Kills Someone
If the dog attacks and kills someone, the owner may be charged with involuntary manslaughter while being subject to liability. Other penalties under this circumstance can vary depending on the severity of the case.
Are you or someone you know a victim of a dog attack? Calculating the damages stemming from the dog bite attack and filing the case can be difficult.
At The Lob Law Firm, we are a team of seasoned personal injury lawyers. Our professional Michigan dog bite attorneys can help you file a complaint, calculate the damages, and negotiate with the pet owner or present the case in court in order to get you fair compensation.
Reporting a Dog Bite Case in Michigan
If a dog attacks you or anyone you know, you need to take the right measures. First, try to stay calm and normalize the situation. Next, follow these steps and report the incident.
Remove Yourself from the Area
Even if the dog is done biting or attacking you, it may come back and harm you again. Remove yourself or the victim from the area right away. If the dog is still there, call the police or animal control for help and then exit the area.
Seek Medical Attention
Dog bites can be dangerous so it would be wise to call an ambulance and visit the nearest hospital to treat the wound. Make sure to collect the medical bill receipts and other important documents, as they might help you prove the claim.
Report the Incident to the Local Police
There is no specific department for reporting dog bites, but you can call the local police station in your area where the incident happened to report it.
Report the Incident to the Local Animal Control Agency
After providing information to the police, provide similar information to the local animal control department.
Call Professional Lawyers
Lastly, you should call professional personal injury lawyers to assist you with the case. The lawyers will evaluate the evidence and can advise you on the next step you should take.
How to Prove a Personal Injury from a Dog Bite
Proving that an unprovoked dog caused the injuries you’ve sustained can be very challenging, even in a “strict liability” state like Michigan. Here’s how expert personal injury lawyers suggest you present your case and prove the claim.
The Dog Bite Caused Injury
First, you need to prove that a dog bite caused injuries. In order to prove that, you’ll need the medical bills and receipts for other expenses, such as the ambulance charges. Another thing to note here is that to qualify your case, you must prove that the injuries are a result of a bite and not any other situation.
The most common type of injuries caused by a dog bite or attack include the following:
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injuries and concussions
- Scarring and disfigurement
Not all injuries are physical, and some of the victims of dog bites also suffer from the following:
- Loss of faith in dogs
- PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
You Did Not Provoke the Dog
After establishing your claim that you suffered injuries due to a dog bite, you need to prove that you did not provoke the dog. This stipulation prevents most dog bite victims from being able to seek dog bite settlement as they fail to prove that the dog was not provoked.
Typically, dogs only bite or snap when they feel threatened and antagonized. To stand a case against the dog owner, you must prove that you did not provoke the dog or do anything that made the animal feel threatened.
If the bite was unprovoked, a dog bite lawyer would be able to help you provide the necessary evidence to prove your claims. For example, the dog bite attorney can contact some eyewitnesses to testify you were attacked by the dog while minding your own business.
Location Where the Attack Happened
Lastly, to prove your claim in a dog bite attack, you need to prove that you were on public property or that you had permission to visit the pet owner’s private property. For instance, if a dog attacked and injured you when you were jogging in the park or on the sidewalk, proving the claim will be easier.
If the dog bit you while you were trespassing on the owner’s property, you might not be able to pursue your dog bite lawsuit.
According to Michigan law, you have up to three years to file your complaint against a pet owner in a dog bite case. Keep in mind, waiting for that long can curtail the chances of collecting enough evidence to support your claim and get fair compensation.
It is advised to contact the professional personal injury lawyers at The Lobb Law Firm at the earliest opportunity to file a charge against the pet owner. We’ll help you throughout the case, from gathering the evidence to presenting it in court or negotiating a settlement.
Dial 248-591-4090 to speak to an experienced dog bite attorney about your case.
What Are Shared Fault Rules, and How Can They Impact Your Dog Bite Case?
There can be some circumstances when proving that the pet owner was solely responsible for the Michigan dog bite injuries might not be possible. And in such situations, the shared fault rules can come into action.
These rules are used to resolve cases where the dog bite victim was partially to blame for their injuries. The shared fault is a common concept, especially in cases like dog bites and car accidents.
Comparative negligence classifies into two types:
- Pure comparative negligence
- Modified comparative negligence (applicable in Michigan)
In states with pure comparative negligence, the plaintiff is allowed to claim damages for the 1% they are not at fault for even when they are 99% at fault for the accident. Michigan follows modified comparative negligence, which means an injured party may recover damages only if they are less than 50% at fault for the injury or damages. In cases where the court finds the plaintiff is more than half at-fault, they cannot recover anything from the defendant.
For example, if someone annoys a dog and the animal attacks them, they are responsible for the entire event. However, if the owner did not obey the leash law and the dog was running loose, they are also partially responsible for the event.
What Will Happen to the Dog After a Dog Bite Case?
In most cases, nothing happens to the dog beyond the court ordering the dog to quarantine for a few months (most probably at the owner’s house). If the attack is severe or the dog has attacked several times before in the past, the court or local animal control authority may issue orders requiring the dog to be put down or confined.
In Michigan, the court can declare a dog to be a “vicious dog” or “potentially dangerous dog”.
- The court or local animal authority may issue orders to put down the dog if it is a “vicious dog”. Or severe restrictions can be imposed on the dog for the protection of the public.
- For a “potentially dangerous dog”, the court can order the animal to be confined in an escape-proof fenced yard. When not on the owner’s property, the animal should be restrained by a leash and under the control of a responsible adult.
Did you get injured by someone else’s dog? You can prove it in court with the help of the dog bite attorneys at The Lobb Law Firm. We can help gather evidence that proves your injuries were caused by the dangerous animal.
Furthermore, we can help you by negotiating the compensation you will need in order to pay for lost wages, medical bills, and any other damages you encountered.
How to Find the Best Michigan Dog Bite Attack Injury Lawyers
As you learn the importance of attorneys in dog bite cases, you might be wondering how to find the “best attorney near me”. Here are a few things to consider for selecting a reliable lawyer for your case.
They Should Be Experts in Personal Injury Laws
Dog bites qualify as a personal injury so your attorneys should have vast knowledge of these laws. Look for attorney firms that specialize in personal injury laws, as they can best help you recover fair compensation.
They Should Have a Proven Track Record of Success
As dog bite cases are complex and proving the defendant’s fault is challenging, you need Michigan dog bite lawyers who know how to navigate the entire process. Attorneys with a successful track record of handling dog bite cases can handle your case better. You can expect fair compensation when working with seasoned lawyers.
Choose Lawyers Based on Contingency Fee Structure
There are some lawyers that work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no fee until the outcome is ruled in your favor. After paying for your medical treatment, losing wages, and other financial hurdles, hiring contingency fee lawyers is the right decision.
They Should Help You with the Insurance
While most lawyers will help you file a complaint against the pet owner and represent you in court, only a handful of them will help you with the insurance formalities as well. After a dog bite, you need a lawyer to handle all legal issues, so partner with a law firm that can help you with everything, including interacting with insurance companies.
Let The Lobb Law Firm Help You With Your Dog Bite Claim
If you are a victim of a dog bite, you need a professional attorney to represent you in court. At The Lobb Law Firm, we are personal injury lawyers with decades of experience in the industry.
Our attorneys have been helping the residents of Michigan get fair settlements after suffering personal injuries due to a dog bite or attack for over 45 years.
We’ll assist you through every step of the case and will leave no stone unturned to get the outcome in your favor.
Call us at 248-591-4090 for a free consultation and speak with one of Michigan’s finest lawyers about your case.