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Under Michigan dog bite laws and statute, there are three different theories of liability in which you can bring action against a dog owner for damages. The first two theories address whether an owner failed to control the animal and if there is reason to believe that the dog has a dangerous propensity.
The case Trager v Thor is used for determining whether a dog owner failed to control the animal. In order for an injured victim to have a cause for action, "the owner must breach his duty to effectively control the animal in a situation where it would reasonably be expected that its normal or abnormal propensities could cause injury" and also that "the injury does proximately result from the owner's negligence." This is essentially saying that the dog owner must lose control of the animal during a situation where injury could occur and this loss of control or negligence of the owner is the reason the injury occurred.
Owners of domestic animals can also be held strictly liable under Michigan common law. Trager v Thor is also used to determine if the owner is aware of an animal's dangerous or violent propensity. In order for strict liability to be shown, the owner must have knowledge or reason to believe the animal has dangerous propensities. It must also be shown that dangerous propensities are abnormal for a member of its class and that the actually injury happened because of the dangerous propensity which the owner knows about or has reason believe.
The Michigan dog bite statute also provides a theory of liability in which action can be brought against the dog owner. MCL 287.351 details the law when a person is bitten by a dog and the liability of the owner. It may seem like all these laws and statues are redundant, but they each have their own purpose relating to finding owner liability. Under this section of the law, "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." Essentially this sentence describes the situation in where a dog owner would be held liable if any injuries occurred. Many questions usually arise as to where the dog bite took place and if this nullifies the liability of the owner. Michigan law realizes this inherent problem and states that "A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner's property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner's property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act."
Our attorneys at The Clark Law Office have successfully tried and recovered many awards for victims of dog bites. If you have been bitten or hurt by a dog or any other type of animal, you should contact us as soon as possible so that we can make sure that all vital evidence is preserved. We will also have your injuries evaluated and documented by experts in the field. We understand the laws and statutes behind Michigan dog bite law and know when and how to apply them to give you the best chance of success. We charge no fees on all personal injury cases unless you win and offer free consultations to all of our clients. Find out how we can help you recover damages for medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering and other costs.