DOG BITE LAW IN MICHIGAN

Plymouth Dog Bite Attorneys

Dog bites when one is bitten or otherwise injured by contact with a dog, there are both statutory and common law remedies available to obtain care and compensation. These claims are typically against the owner(s) of the animal. Where there is an actual bite, the liability for the resulting injuries and care is absolute under state law. Where there is not a bite, the claims are brought under the common law for the owner’s failure to properly supervise or restrain the animal.

The dog owner is strictly liable for any dog bite injury caused by the pet, regardless of the underlying circumstances.

dog bites in Michigan

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In Michigan, a dog bite statute is in effect. (See MCL § 287.351 (2009)) There are three key points to the statute:

Knowing that the dog could be dangerous is irrelevant:

Knowledge of the dog’s viciousness is irrelevant under the statute. The dog could have been well behaved its entire life, never before biting anyone. Under this statute, the first bitecan invoke liability.

You must be lawfully on the property:

The owner of a dog will be liable if the dog attacked you while you were on either (1) public property, or (2) while you were lawfully on private property (i.e. you weren’t trespassing or committing a crime). In other words, if you were invited onto the dog owner’s property as a guest or a potential customer, then you were lawfully on the property and can likely recover for your injuries.

The Defense of Provocation:

The only defense the dog owner can assert is provocation. If you were bitten after you provoked the dog, then you may be barred from recovery. Provocation does not have to be done intentionally; instead, it can be done accidentally. In other words, you do not have to intend to anger the dog. If your act would have caused a regular dog to bite, then it could be considered provocation under Michigan law, barring your claim.

For example, in Brans v Extrom, 266 Mich App 216; 701 NW2d 163 (2005) the plaintiff accidentally stepped on the dog’s tail, causing the dog to bite the plaintiff’s leg. A jury found this to be adequate provocation. The Court of Appeals denied the dog owner a new trial by holding that the plaintiff’s intent was immaterial.

The law is straightforward and sets out a strict liability standard. This means that when the owner’s dog bites someone else when that person is lawfully in a public place or on the dog owner’s land, then the dog owner is liable for any injuries or damages related to the dog bite. The strict liability law holds dog owners to a higher standard of responsibility as a matter of law because of the potential for significant injury that exists when a dog bites a person.

In Michigan, the dog bite statute does not do away with the common law rules. Under Michigan common law, the dog owner can be liable if he or she knows (or has reason to know) that the dog can be dangerous. This dog owner will then be liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was careless by not putting a leash on the dog, failed to adequately supervise the dog, or did not use a proper sign to warn of the dangerous dog.

Damages:

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Based on the specific scenario, in addition to assuming liability, a dog owner may also be responsible for reimbursing the injured person for medical or psychological bills, pain and suffering caused by the attack, mental anguish, lost wages among others.

The Michigan Dog Bite laws can be very confusing. That is why it is very important for you to speak with a Michigan attorney who specializes in Michigan Dog bites or Michigan Dog Bite Attacks. Call or email us today for a free consultation.among others.

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Ann Arbor

2100 S. Main Street

Ste A

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103

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42705 Grand River Ave.

Ste 201

Novi, Michigan 48375

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1150 Ann Arbor Rd

Ste 104

Plymouth, MI 48170

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