Dog Bite AttorneysThe Michigan Dog Bite Statute holds dog owners entirely liable for the actions of their pets, with the only exception being when an animal is deliberately provoked. Under Michigan law, Section 287.351, the dog owner is liable when the incident occurred on the dog owner’s property, and the victim of the dog bite was not a trespasser. Negligence is the second grounds for liability following a dog bite in the state and can be based on the violation of a leash law or animal control law. In other words, if the ordinance in a particular area requires that owners of dogs must keep them on a leash, then if an unleased dog in a public area bites a person, the owner could be liable. Certain cities in Michigan have strict liability dog bite laws which go beyond the state’s dog bite laws. Landlords may also be held liable for bites from a dog belonging to a tenant—if the landlord was aware of the vicious nature of the dog. If you have suffered a dog bite a top injury lawyer in Southfield from The Lobb Law Firm will take quick action to help you recover from this unexpected event. Recovering from a dog attack can be a slow, painful process. While many dog bites are fairly minor, others can cause painful injuries, disfiguring scars, and even serious illness if the dog is unvaccinated. If you have been bitten by a dog, make The Lobb Law Firm your first point of contact once you have received appropriate medical attention.
Facts About Dog BitesAccording to dogbites.org, 43 dog bite-related fatalities occurred in 2014. Forty-four percent of the fatality victims were children aged nine or younger, two percent were teens, and fifty-three percent were adults over the age of 20. Of the adults killed in a dog attack, seventy percent were over the age of 50. As these statistics indicate, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dog bites and dog attacks. Female victims of dog bites and dog attacks—both those which are fatal and those which cause serious injury—outnumber male victims. In 2014, about 20 percent of all the dog bite fatality victims were visiting the dog’s owner. Dog bite and dog attack fatalities are much more likely to occur when the attack involves a pack of dogs, rather than a single dog. The Canine Journal reports that a study done by the CDC found:
- 7 million dog bites occur in the United States each and every year;
- At least 800,000 of these dog bites will result in the necessity for medical care;
- In 2017, one out of every 69 people were bitten by a dog, whether a minor nip, or a more severe bite or attack;
- Despite common belief, chihuahuas actually bite the most, followed by bulldogs, pit bulls and German Shepherds, however, the larger breed do much more damage than a small chihuahua;
- According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than a third of all homeowner insurance liability claims paid in 2014 were a result of a dog bite or dog attack—the same report found that in Michigan in 2014, there were 693 dog bite claims, averaging $38,302 paid out per claim.
- Postal employees actually do get bitten by dogs fairly often; in 2017, 6,244 letter carriers were bitten.
What Injuries are Commonly Associated with Dog Bites and Dog Attacks?A dog attack or dog bite can lead to a variety of injuries and can vary in severity as well. Many dog bites can result in permanent tissue damage or permanent scarring and disfigurement. Some of the more common injuries associated with dog bites include the following:
- Neck and head injuries;
- Facial lacerations;
- Injuries to the eyes;
- Puncture wounds;
- Nerve damage;
- Internal organ damage;
- Fractures, and
- Tissue damage.
Limitations to Michigan Dog Bite ClaimsIn some instances, the owner of the dog that bit or attacked you might not have sufficient insurance coverage to address your claim fully. Your personal injury attorney will understand how to obtain the help you need. Homeowner’s insurance may cover your medical expenses related to the dog bite injuries, and auto insurance could potentially cover your injuries if the dog was inside the owner’s vehicle at the time of the bite. If the owner of the dog failed to exhibit reasonable and ordinary care in preventing the dog bite or dog attack, your damages could be recovered under negligence laws. In the rare cases, where an owner intended for the dog to bite you, an intentional tort claim could be brought against the owner.
How our Injury Lawyers from The Lobb Law Firm can Help Following a Michigan Dog Bite?When you turn to The Lobb Law Firm, our highly involved lawyers will do everything in our power to ensure you are well taken care of. We will determine whether legal action will be beneficial to you and if it is determined such action would be beneficial, we will mediate with the dog owner and his or her insurance on your behalf. In the unlikely event we are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, we will take legal action, filing a lawsuit on your behalf. The attorneys at The Lobb Law Firm will offer you our full support, making you aware of your entitlements. As an accident victim, you have the right to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. An attorney from The Lobb Law Firm will deal with the many complexities of Michigan dog bite laws, working hard to recover the compensation you are entitled to receive. If you lost a loved one as a result of a dog bite or dog attack, our Southfield injury lawyers can file a wrongful death claim on your behalf. With more than four decades of experience in personal injury law, we have a vast network of resources to help you get back on your feet, physically, emotionally, and financially. Our commitment to you is always to do what is best for you, your family, and your future. We handle many cases out of Detroit, Southfield, Sterling Heights, and Dearborn Heights, however if you or a loved one are anywhere in Wayne County, Macomb County, or Oakland County, and have suffered a dog bite injury resulting in a personal injury, contact The Lobb Law Firm today for a free consultation. Dog attacks can be sudden, unexpected, and brutal. Depending on the severity of the attack, you could suffer debilitating and disfiguring injuries from dog bites. Apart from the physical injuries and pain, the psychological trauma caused by a dog bite attack can take a toll on your mental health as well.Read More
If you have been injured in an attack by a dog, the Michigan dog bite lawyers at The Lobb Law Firm can help you bring a claim against the dog owner and recover compensatory damages. Our knowledgable lawyers have nearly 70 years of combined experience in handling dog bite claims and have recovered substantial damages for our clients. We can represent you, protect your rights as a dog bite victim, negotiate on your behalf with an insurance company, argue your case in court, and get the best settlement possible. If needed, we will take all legal actions available to recover the compensatory damages you are owed.
Dog Bite Statistics
- Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that every year, approximately 4.5 million people in the country are injured in dog bite attacks. In other words, 1 out of every 73 people in the US is injured in a dog bite attack each year.
- Nearly 51% of dog bite victims in the country happen to be children – mainly those between the ages of 5 and 9. Dog bite attack is the fifth leading cause of emergency room visits for children.
- Every year, over 316,000 dog bite victims suffer serious injuries that require emergency medical attention.
- A vast majority of dog bite attacks involve dogs that are not neutered or spayed.
- Close to 18,000 dog bite-related claims are filed in the country every year and over $800 million is paid out in damages by insurance companies.
Dog Breeds that Are Commonly Involved in Dog Bite AttacksWhile all dogs are capable of attacking humans, some breeds tend to be more aggressive than others and pose a higher risk to those around them. It is partly because they were selectively bred to track, hunt, and kill prey and for other tasks that require high levels of aggression. Apart from genetic factors, learned behaviors, lack of socialization, and other environmental factors can also play a big role in determining a dog’s behavior. The dog breeds that are known for their predatory instincts and aggressive behavior include:
- German shepherd
- Bull terrier
- Jack Russell terrier
- Doberman pinscher
Dog Breeds that Are Known to Have the Strongest BiteThe dog breeds that are known for their strong bite force include:
- English mastiff
- German shepherd
- Doberman pinscher
What Are the Different Levels of Dog Bites?Depending on their nature and severity, dog bite attacks can be classified into six different levels – according to a system designed by a noted veterinarian and canine behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar.
Level 1Level 1 involves aggressive behavior by the dog, but without any actual physical contact. It can include biting or snapping at the air, growling and showing the teeth, and posing in an aggressive manner. It is commonly referred to as the pre-bite stage.
Level 2A second-level bite attack is one where the dog bites you and leaves bite marks – without breaking or puncturing the skin. Similarly, if the dog scratches you without breaking your skin, it can be considered a level 2 bite as well. A level 2 bite is also referred to as a near-bite.
Level 3A third-level bite is one where the dog bites you at least once and causes one to four puncture wounds, which are not deeper than half the length of the dog’s fangs or canines. Lacerations and skin tears in a single direction – caused by trying to pull your hand or any other part of the body away from the dog or due to someone trying to pull the dog away from you – can also be considered a level 3 bite.
Level 4A fourth-level bite attack is one where the dog bites you and causes one to four puncture wounds, which are deeper than half the length of the dog’s fangs or canines. Lacerations and skin tears in two directions – caused by the dog holding on to your hand or any other part of the body and shaking its head from side to side – can also be considered a level 4 bite.
Level 5A fifth-level bite is one where the dog bites you multiple times and causes at least two level 4 injuries. Level 5 dog bite attacks often result in mutilating or disfiguring injuries. Children and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to level 5 attacks, as they cannot fight off or defend themselves against an aggressive dog.
Level 6A sixth-level bite is one where the dog causes fatal injuries. The severity of a dog bite attack generally depends on a wide range of factors including:
- The dog’s breed
- The dog’s size
- The dog’s bite force
- Whether or not the dog was spayed or neutered
- Whether the attack happened in a small, enclosed space (where the victim could get trapped and might not be able to escape)
- How long the victim was attacked
- Age, size, and physical condition of the victim
Common Injuries that Can Result from a Dog Attack
- Skin tears and lacerations
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Loss of fingers or toes
- Nerve damage
The Risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Dog AttackResearch shows that dog bite victims – young children in particular – are at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder compared to the general population. Being attacked by a dog can leave you with an intense fear of dogs, cause you to relive the attack over and over again, and make you fearful of even leaving the house. The traumatic memories of the dog attack can make it extremely hard for you to lead a normal life.
The Risk of Infections from Dog BitesOne of the things that make dog attacks so dangerous is the risk of bacterial infections. If a dog bite injury is not treated properly, it can lead to serious infections with life-threatening consequences. Dogs, like all animals, carry a wide range of bacteria, many of which are harmful to humans. The most common types of bacterial infections that can be caused by dog bites include:
Pasteurella InfectionDogs carry Pasteurella canis and Pasteurella multocida, which are pathogens belonging to the Pasteurella family. These pathogens can be passed to humans through a bite – especially if the bite causes puncture wounds. It can result in an infection called cellulitis, which is characterized by symptoms like swelling, pain, redness, fever, and chills. If left untreated, cellulitis can cause severe tissue damage and lead to potentially life-threatening complications like endocarditis, meningitis, and sepsis.
Staph and Strep InfectionsDogs carry staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria, which can cause staph infections and strep infections in humans. The symptoms include boils, painful rashes, pain and swelling in the joints, fever, and cellulitis. Staph infections, in particular, can be dangerous, as they can lead to serious conditions like bacteremia and toxic shock syndrome. In rare cases, dog bite injuries can also lead to methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, which is resistant to many antibiotics and can be difficult to treat.
Capnocytophaga InfectionDog bites can lead to capnocytophaga infections, which are caused by capnocytophaga canimorsus – a pathogen found in the oral cavity of dogs. The most common symptoms of capnocytophaga infection include headache, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rashes. In the absence of proper treatment, the infection can lead to endocarditis and sepsis, which can be fatal.
TetanusDog bites can also result in the transmission of clostridium tetani – the bacteria that can cause tetanus. If you have already been vaccinated and boosted against tetanus, you do not have to worry about the possibility of a tetanus infection. Correlating with this, if you have deep puncture wounds, if the injured spot is dirty, and if you had your last booster shot more than five years ago, your doctor might recommend a booster shot in order to prevent the risk of a tetanus infection.
RabiesThis is by far the most serious risk associated with dog bites. Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects the central nervous system. The risk of rabies virus transmission through dog bites is extremely low, as the rabies vaccination is mandatory for all dogs under Michigan law. Still, if you are bitten by an unvaccinated dog or a dog whose vaccination status is not known, you might require rabies shots.
What Should You Do After a Dog Attack?
- Wash the wound as well as the surrounding area using soap and water. If you have puncture wounds, apply pressure to the surrounding area to encourage bleeding.
- If you are heavily bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or gauze.
- Apply antibiotic cream (if you have it) and bandage the wound.
- Take pictures of your injuries, your torn clothes, damaged personal belongings, the dog that bit you, the spot where the attack happened, and any landmarks in the vicinity.
- If the dog owner happens to be around, get their name, address, and insurance information. Do not say anything to the owner about the dog attack.
- Find out if anyone witnessed the dog attack and get their contact information.
- Get medical attention as fast as possible. Even if the wound is not bleeding heavily, it is critically important to get medical attention, as it can easily get infected.
- Monitor your condition carefully and go to the doctor again if you exhibit any signs of an infection. Make sure you follow all the instructions given by the doctor. Most importantly, do not try to self-medicate and do not substitute your medications with home remedies.
- Contact The Lobb Law Firm and talk to a reliable Michigan dog bite lawyer to find out whether you have a case against the dog owner and what your legal options are.
- Do not try to talk to anyone from the dog owner’s insurance company. If they insist on talking to you, get their phone number and tell them that your lawyer will contact them.
- Stay away from social media. Do not post anything and do not retweet, like, or comment on any of your friends’ posts.
- Make a detailed note of your injuries and how they impact your day-to-day life. Document your recovery process by taking pictures and videos regularly.
Michigan Dog Bite Laws – What You Need to KnowWhen it comes to dog bites, Michigan follows the legal doctrine of strict liability, under which a dog owner can be held liable for a victim’s injuries – regardless of whether they were negligent in controlling the dog in question. What it means is that as a dog bite victim, you are not required to prove that the dog owner was negligent, reckless, or failed to take reasonable care to control their dog. You merely need to prove the following elements:
- You were attacked by the dog in question and suffered injuries.
- You did not do anything that can be considered an act of provocation.
- You were in a public place or you were on the dog owner’s property lawfully.
Negligence Claim for Dog BitesDog bite-related negligence claims work exactly like any other personal injury claim. You need to prove that the dog owner failed in their duty to prevent their dog from injuring other people. For example, if the owner failed to put the dog on a leash, it can be considered an act of negligence. Similarly, if the owner failed to lock the dog house and the entrance gate, and if the dog managed to get out and injure you, it can be considered an act of negligence as well.
Damages Recoverable in a Michigan Dog Bite Claim
- Medical expenses (including the cost of ambulance services, emergency medical care, diagnostic procedures and lab tests, surgery, physician’s charges, hospitalization charges, pain medications, antibiotics, and other expenses associated with your treatment)
- Cost of future treatment and care
- Cost of physical rehabilitation and therapy
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Decreased quality of life