Dog parks can be a haven for dogs and humans alike. They provide a safe environment for canines to romp with other four-legged friends while their owners socialize with fellow dog lovers. However, a pleasant visit to the park can turn ugly when a dog attacks another person. And, because there are many parks that do not require their to dog to be leashed within the park, an owner may not have time to intervene if a dog suddenly becomes aggressive.
Michigan dog bite victims are often entitled to substantial compensation for their injuries and related costs, regardless of where the attack occurs. Here is a guide to determining liability when someone is bitten in a dog park.
In most cases, the owner is liable when their dog bites and injures another person on public property, which includes dog parks. Michigan has a “strict liability” dog bite law that holds owners responsible for the actions of their dog, even if the dog has never bitten before and has a history of “good behavior.”
Nevertheless, the law includes certain exceptions that may exempt the owner from liability. One of them is most pertinent when an attack occurs on public property such as a dog park:
In order to file a lawsuit, the victim must have a lawful right to be in park.
When the victim did not provoke the dog and was attacked in a public place or while lawfully on the owner’s property, the injured party may sue the owner for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses related to the dog attack. In addition, the victim may be entitled to compensation for intangible damages such as pain and suffering and psychological trauma.
Recommended reading: Michigan Dog Bite Laws Everyone Should Know
This depends on the rules of the specific dog park. According to Michigan law MCL 287.262, dogs must be kept on a leash whenever they are in public, with the exception of leader dogs, farm dogs and certain others. Anyone who fails to comply with this law could be charged with a misdemeanor. However, most dog parks allow dogs to be off-leash within a designated area. In addition, dogs are typically required to be leashed when entering and exiting the park.
This is a standard warning displayed at many public places such as parks, playgrounds and beaches. However, this type of sign does not absolve Michigan dog owners from liability if their dog harms another person.
In addition, most dog parks have a set of rules specific to that location. For example, many parks require annual permits, which are usually provided on the condition that dogs are licensed and up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. Other parks require owners to have these documents (or digital versions) on site. Furthermore, some parks do not allow strollers or children below a certain age.
Therefore, it is important for owners to be familiar with the rules and regulations of each dog park they visit.
First, call an ambulance if you or anyone else require medical attention.
Next, make sure the owner or person responsible for the dog provides you with the following information, as required under the Michigan Penal Code (Section 750.66):
Anyone who fails to do this may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $500.
Additionally, some dog parks require all dog bites, including other dogs as well as people, to be reported to the local police department.
Call an experienced dog bite lawyer. These cases can be complicated, and hiring a knowledgeable attorney is the best way to win the compensation you deserve.
In the meantime, do not discuss your injuries with the dog owner or anyone else. If asked, say you cannot determine the extent of your injuries before seeing a doctor.
If you do not require emergency medical care, follow up with your physician as soon as possible. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and you may be entitled to compensation if your condition worsens or you develop an infection or other disorder as a result of the dog attack.
Recommended reading: Michigan is a Top Ten State for Dog Bites: What You Need to Know
Here are some ways to make your next dog park excursion safer and more pleasant for everyone:
If you or a loved one is injured by a dog, we can help. Our knowledgeable legal team knows what it takes to win your case, and we have the expertise and resources to make sure you receive the compensation you and your family deserve.
Dog bite law is complicated, but finding the right dog bite lawyer is simple.
Don’t let the legal clock run out. To get your case started, fill out the brief form below or call 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety and comfort of your home.
Get The Bernstein Advantage® today!
Free. Simple. Quick.