DOG BITE Lawyers

If you or a loved one have experienced a dog bite or animal attack, contact The Sam Bernstein Law Firm to get the compensation you deserve.


Why you need a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer

Dogs are beloved members of many families, providing companionship and unconditional love. However, when a dog attacks, the consequences can be disastrous. Dogs can cause severe injuries resulting in permanent disfigurement, nerve damage, serious infection and death. In fact, 471 people died as a result of dog attacks between 2005 and 2018. Moreover, 66% of these victims were killed by pit bulls.

In addition to physical injuries, those who survive dog attacks often suffer lasting psychological damage, including Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder, or PTSD.

Dog Bite Statistics

  • Approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the United States
  • More than 800,000 of those bites require medical care
  • Over half of these victims are bitten at home, by dogs that are familiar to them
  • Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten
  • Children are the most common victims of dog attacks, and most are bitten by dogs they are familiar with
  • Senior citizens are the second most common victims of dog attacks, followed by postal carriers
  • Michigan ranked 6th in the country for fatal dog attacks from 2005 – 2017




Are Dog Owners Liable when their Dogs Bite?

Yes. In Michigan, dog bites are governed by a "strict liability" statute. In other words, dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. A dog’s previous "good behavior" does not shield the dog owner from responsibility.

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.

One of the key phrases in this statute is "without provocation." When a dog bites, it is common for owners to blame the victim by claiming they provoked the dog. This is usually not the case.

A victim who has been injured is entitled to file a lawsuit and collect damages, even if it is the first time the dog has bitten.


The plaintiff in a dog bite case must prove three key elements:

1. The person being sued (defendant) was the owner of the dog that attacked

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.

2. The dog bit the victim

This can usually be established with photographs, medical records, witness statements or other evidence that the dog caused substantial physical harm.

3. The dog bite caused injury

Finally, medical records and testimony from the injured plaintiff will establish that the dog bite did, in fact, cause injury to the plaintiff.

Other Dog-Related Injuries

The strict liability law only applies to injuries caused by dog bites. However, sometimes a dog’s actions (other than biting) can cause someone to be injured.

For example, suppose a dog is chasing a person, and, in the process of running away, the person tripped and broke an arm. In this instance, the dog owner would not be strictly liable for the 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.

More Information on Dog Bites:

What if the owner claims the dog was provoked?

It is common for an insurance company to assert that the victim somehow provoked the dog, especially where children are concerned. A child in some manner "provoked" the dog and that the child is actually responsible for the resulting injury. This assertion is almost always incorrect.

Most of the time, the children are behaving themselves and it is the dog owner that is responsible for the injury.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite, contact us as soon as possible.

We are ready to help. Get The Bernstein Advantage® today.

How much time do I have to bring a dog bite claim?

Dog bite claims follow the same rules as most personal injury cases. This means a victim has up to three years from the date of the attack to file a claim. However, it is better to consult a lawyer and get your case started as soon as possible. Seek immediate legal help if you or a loved one was the victim of a dog bite.

In some situations, a victim has additional time to file a claim. The most common example is a child under the age of 18. As a legal minor, a child bitten by a dog has until his or her 19th birthday to start formal legal proceedings. However, waiting is not in the child’s best interest. A parent or legal guardian should get immediate legal assistance to pursue the claim on the child’s behalf.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite, contact us as soon as possible.

We are ready to help. Get The Bernstein Advantage® today.

How much is my dog bite case worth?

Determining the value of a dog bite claim is a complicated matter. Before an attorney can engage in serious negotiations regarding settlement of a claim, it is important to assess the degree of long-lasting damage.

In some situations, it may strengthen the case to wait a few months to determine the extent of any permanent scarring. We can advise you on the best way to proceed.

We are ready to help. Get The Bernstein Advantage® today.

What to do if bit by a dog (Checklist)

Here are steps you should take to protect yourself if you have suffered a dog attack. Please print a version to keep in your home in case it is needed.

  1. Immediately wash the dog bite wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  2. Contact your physician for additional care and advice. If you are in immediate medical distress, call an ambulance or go to the emergency room immediately.
  3. Report the dog attack to the Animal Control agency in your community. Tell the officer everything you know about the dog, including name and address of the dog owner.
  4. If the dog is a stray, you still should make a report to your local Animal Control agency. Tell the officer what the dog looked like, where you saw it, whether you saw it before, and the direction it went after the attack.
  5. Get The Bernstein Advantage® to protect your legal rights.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite, contact us as soon as possible.

How to Protect Your Family from Dog Bites

If confronted by a dog, stand still, do not try to run away. Most dogs will move away after determining that you are not a threat.

There are several ways to help reduce the risk of dog bites:

  • Never interfere with a dog that is caring for its puppies
  • Never startle a dog by waking it up or throwing an object in its direction
  • Do not disturb a dog while it is eating or drinking
  • If you feel threatened by a dog, do not run. A dog’s instinct may be to give chase. Stay calm. If you speak, talk in a firm voice without screaming
  • Be very mindful of your children around all dogs, including family pets. Most dog bites occur to children
  • If you think a dog may attack, remain motionless with hands at your sides. Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until the dog is out of sight
  • If the dog does attack, "feed" the dog your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Do not scream or roll around

Despite the best preventive measures, dog attacks do happen. If a dog bites you or your child, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Just as we teach our children to practice safety in other situations, we can teach them ways to avoid becoming dog bite victims. The most important lessons for children are:

  • Do not chase or tease dogs that you know
  • Stay away from dogs that you do not know
  • Treat all dogs as potentially dangerous, unless supervised by an adult
  • Children should never be alone with a dog
  • Never approach a restrained or confined dog
  • Never approach a barking dog, even if he is wagging his tail
  • Never take a toy or food from a dog
  • Never disturb a sleeping dog
  • Never discipline a dog by hitting it

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite, contact us as soon as possible.

We are ready to help. Get The Bernstein Advantage® today.




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