Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer
A dog bite can be a traumatic event that results in serious injuries. Vicious dog attacks cause numerous deaths every year. Often a dog bite will result in permanent scarring, nerve damage, and a significant risk of infection. Many times, there is also psychological harm that lasts well beyond the physical injury. When this happens, it is important that you get yourself a good dog bite lawyer.
Dog Bite–Strict Liability in Michigan
In the state of Michigan, dog bites are covered under a “strict liability” statute. In other words, the law holds a dog owner responsible for any injuries caused to an individual.
The Dog Bite Statute, MCL 287.351, states:
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.
The three key elements necessary to prove a claim are:
- That the defendant was the owner of the dog that attacked, and
- That a dog bite occurred
- That the dog bite caused injury to the plaintiff.
Successfully Proving a Dog Bite Case
Although it is not always apparent who the dog owner is, the owner usually can be identified by licensing and vaccination records, as well as the testimony of witnesses. In most cases, the second element, that the dog bite occurred, can be established with photographs, medical records, witness statements or other evidence that the dog caused substantial physical harm. Finally, medical records and testimony from the injured plaintiff will establish that the dog bite did, in fact, cause injury to the plaintiff.
Under Michigan law, a dog’s “good behavior” before an attack does not shield the dog owner from responsibility. This is because Michigan is a strict liability dog bite state. Because of the strict liability law that applies here, you can have a successful personal injury claim against a dog owner even if it is the first time that their dog has bitten anyone.
Other Injuries Caused by Dogs
The strict liability under Michigan law only applies to injuries caused by dog bites; it does not apply in cases where your injury was caused by a dog’s actions. An example of this would be if you were being chased by a dog, tripped, and broke your arm. In a case like this, the dog owner would not be strictly liable for your injuries.
Rather, this case would proceed like a standard personal injury case in which you would be required to prove the dog owner was negligent. You have to demonstrate that the dog owner owed you a duty of care and breached that duty. You must also show that you were injured, and the dog owner’s breach proximately caused your injuries. It’s essential to know the difference between dog-related injuries that fall under strict liability and dog-related injuries that involve standard negligence law.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite, contact us as soon as possible to get in touch with a dog bite lawyer.