Dog’s are usually considered a human’s best friend.  We train them and we trust them completely.  Unfortunately, letting a dog run free or walking it without following the State’s Leash laws doesn’t demonstrate good ownership, it is simply being irresponsible.  Even the most tame and well trained canines have instincts that can resurface at any time.  Many times, a dog’s aggressive behavior is the result of improper training and treatment from it’s owner.

Approximately 4.5 million dog bites happen every year in the United States alone and 1,000 people require emergency medical care everyday.  In many instances, these bites and injuries could have been prevented.

If you’ve been injured from a dog bite or dog attack due to the negligence of the owner, he or she is legally liable for your injuries.  We have represented and won dog bite injury lawsuits for dozens of Michigan residents and we can win for you too.  You can recover financial compensation for all of the medical expenses related to the bite or attack, lost income, mental trauma, and more.  Give us a call today and we can help you understand the legal process and what you can do about it.

How Do I Prevent a Dog Bite?

There is no 100% surefire way to prevent a dog bite from occurring, but you can take certain precautions to lower the risk.  If the dog looks to be aggressive or is a dog that you just are not familiar with, you should be cautious regardless of it is breed.  If there is not an owner present it is wise to just avoid the dog altogether if possible.

You should always be aware of your surroundings and you should also let your children know not to approach dogs they are unfamiliar with.  A good rule of thumb is to always ask the owner of the dog if it is ok to give their dog a pet and if they are friendly.  Most owners will be truthful, and nobody knows better than them if it is safe to approach their dog.

Caution is the best way to prevent bites and attacks, but unfortunately, they still happen.  A victim will often feel scared and overwhelmed directly after receiving a bite.  Getting proper medical treatment should be the priority.  Another priority is getting as much information about the dog owner and the dog itself.  It is crucial to know if the dog is up to date on all his/her vaccinations, especially rabies.  This information along with the contact information of the owner will be important for a future claim or lawsuit.

What Should I Do Immediately Following a Dog Bite?

Knowing what to do right after a dog bite can make a big difference from both a medical and financial perspective.  Here are some steps you should take following a bite or attack:

  • Stop the bleeding using compression from a sterile towel or cloth.
  • Keep the bitten area elevated if possible.
  • Clean the bite area well with soap and water. Hydrogen peroxide can also be useful.
  • Bandage with wound with a sterile dressing.
  • Get the wound looked at by a doctor. If the bite is severe, go to the Emergency Room.
  • Call the local animal patrol office and the police department to have a report filed.
  • Take as many pictures and videos of the bite and surrounding area if you are able.
  • Do not post anything on social media about your bite. Avoid it altogether.
  • Contact a dog bite lawyer with experience handling dog bite or attack cases.

How Do I Report a Dog Bite?  What Happens Next?

The main purpose of reporting a dog bite is to document the incident.  You should call both the local animal control and local police department.  They will help determine who will come out to investigate the incident and file a report.  Many times, a dog will have a history of biting that can be verified.  The investigator assigned to the case will also be able to inform you if the dog is up to date on all the vaccinations including rabies.  If the dog has not been vaccinated for rabies, you might have to receive special medical attention because rabies is a profoundly serious condition and should not be taken lightly.

Sometimes, the dog will be required to be quarantined after the bite.  Animal control or the police will file an incident report.  This report will include all the facts about the incident that they uncovered in their investigation including the severity of the bite and if the dog has had the proper inoculations.  You can get a copy of the report using the FOIA or by contacting the police.   If you decide to hire our dog bite attorneys, we will take care of this for you.

What Should I Do If I Was Bitten By a Relative or Neighbor’s Dog?

Just because the owner of the dog is a relative, does not mean that you do not have the right to file a lawsuit for compensation for your injuries and mental anguish.  Many victims are afraid to take this step because they think it will cause a strain to their family relationship.  This might be true in some circumstances, but the homeowner’s insurance policy might pay a settlement.

If the homeowner’s insurance covers the dog bite (typical in these cases), the dog owner will not have to pay any expenses out of their own pocket.

If you have been bitten by a neighbor or friend’s dog, you also have legal rights.  While the situation might be uncomfortable, you must look out for yourself and your rights.  Many times, the friend or neighbor will deny responsibility and be unapologetic towards you.  The owner of the dog will also sometimes blame you for the bite.  This is common as no neighbor wants to admit blame or pay out financially on what could be considerable medical expenses depending on the severity of the injury.

Over 60% of dog bites occur at home or a place that you are familiar with.  Over 75% of dogs that bite you will be owned by a family or friend.  So, chances are that if your bitten by a dog you will be dealing with an uncomfortable situation with someone close to you.  Do not let this fact stop you from getting the compensation you deserve.  The dog bite was not your fault.

The insurance companies do not have the legal standing to remove the dog from their owners or family.  If everyone involved acts in a civilized manner, a healthy relationship can be continued after the victim is fairly compensation for their dog bite or attack injuries.

I am a Fed-Ex, Amazon, UPS, or USPS Driver and I was Bitten By a Dog

Increased demands for at home deliveries has increased substantially over the last few years and even more so this year with the covid-19 pandemic.  Fed-Ex, Amazon, UPS, and USPS has hired more delivery drivers than ever to keep up with the e-commerce shopping.  Unfortunately, these jobs come with a higher risk than most realize.

When delivery drivers leave their vehicles for package drop-offs, they become vulnerable to dogs that are not well trained or are unrestrained.  The most common scenarios are when owners allow their canines to run loose on the property and not securing the dog when they answer the door.  If a dog bites or attacks a delivery driver, the owner of the pet might be held liable for any injuries.  This is even more likely if the animal has a previous history of being violent.

When a Fed-Ex driver, Amazon driver, or UPS delivery employee is injured, they have two potential options for pursuing a lawsuit based on Michigan law.  The first option is to file a worker’s compensation claim since they were bitten or attacked while on the job.  This claim will pay for all the wages lost during the recovery along with all related medical expenses incurred.

The 2nd option for an injured delivery worker is for the pain and suffering.  Dog bites and attacks are often profoundly serious and traumatizing.  The injuries can include scarring and disfigurement, nerve damage, broken bones, and more.  Under this option, you can recover financial compensation for the mental trauma, the loss of enjoyment of future life, and other non-economic damages.

Attacks By Pit Bulls Can Be Especially Dangerous

Pit bulls have a reputation as being the most dangerous dog breed that an owner can have.  While there is truth to this reputation, they are mainly dangerous because of the sheer amount of power and damage they can inflict when they do turn violent.  A single bite from a pit bull can result in changing the victim’s life forever.  The attack or bite can lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement, nerve damage, infections, rabies, and can even be fatal.

Most pit bulls are not dangerous unless they have been neglected by their owners or have been trained incorrectly.  For this reason, when they attack it can usually be attributed to the negligence of the pit bull owner.  If you have been bitten or attacked by a pit bull, you should contact a skilled dog bite lawyer that can investigate your claim and find out if negligence of the owner contributed to the attack.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

All dog bite and attacks are different, but there are common injuries that occur.  Some of the most common dog bite injuries that our attorneys have seen over the years include:

Physical injuries are more apparent, but mental or psychological injuries are just as common.  Some of these include fear or canines for life, reoccurring nightmares, post-traumatic stress syndrome, humiliation and embarrassment from scarring and disfigurement, and more.

Facial injuries As a Result From Dog Bites

Facial injuries resulting from a dog bite are quite a common injury and they can leave devastating effects.  Even with the proper medical care, these bites often lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement.  For good reason, many people are self-conscious about their facial appearance and a scar can negatively affect your confidence and your life.  Facial injuries have a high value because of this fact and the fact that it can be awfully expensive to treat medically.

Dog bite victims that have scarring on their face usually turn to plastic surgeons for medical treatment and to minimize the ill effects.  While plastic surgery has come a long way, many times scars are not eliminated and remain for life.  If a child has incurred a facial injury, plastic surgery may not be an option until they are older due to the fact they are still growing.  This means they can go through their whole childhood with an embarrassing scar or disfigurement.   This causes an immense amount of mental anguish.

Can I Receive Compensation For a Dog Bite?

Michigan law allows dog bite victims the right to financial compensation for injuries incurred from a bite or attack in most instances.  The type of compensation typically includes payment for all related medical expenses including the cost for plastic surgery or other type of treatment to reduce or eliminate scars, and reimbursement for lost income.

There is also compensation for the psychological injuries including pain and suffering, emotional trauma, fright and shock, and more.  It is easy to understand that victims suffer from nightmares and have an overwhelming fear of dogs after a bite or attack.  This has a major impact on their future mental state, and it can negatively affect their ability to lead a normal life afterwards.

Medical expenses for treatment of dog bite injuries can escalate quickly.  Plastic surgeons are notoriously expensive, and treatments can require multiple visits and surgeries.  Follow up care including physical therapy and mental counseling can take years.  The Humane Society has estimated that costs and expenses for dog bite emergency visits alone tops $100 million every year.

What Are The Dog Bite Laws in the State of Michigan?

The state of Michigan has an extremely specific set of laws and rules for victims of a dog bite attack.  The Michigan dog bite statute (287.351) hold the owner of the dog liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten regardless if the dog was previously vicious or if the owner knows about a previous vicious activity.  On top of this statute, Michigan has strict leash laws and other laws which can be used in lawsuits when recovering financial compensation for the victim.

There are not many legal defenses to a dog bite lawsuit, be we have heard them all.  A common defense is that the victim was trespassing at the time of the incident and therefore the owner should not be held liable for their dog’s actions.

Another quite common legal defense is that the dog was provoked.  You must remember, dog owners will do or claim almost anything to avoid paying expense medical bills, lost wages, and pain/suffering.  Even if you did absolutely nothing wrong, they will often claim that you provoked the dog simply because it is hard to prove.  It is important to know that the dog’s response or reaction must be proportional to the degree of provocation.

For example, if someone is simply trying to pet the dog and then this results in a serious attack, this would not be a proportional reaction and will not be considered provocation.  Provocation is subjective and is usually determined by the jury.  For this reason, it is important to hire an experienced dog bite attorney who has dealt with these issues before and knows the best way to present a strong case for you and how to proceed in the best manner.

Can I Sue After a Dog Attack in Michigan?

Yes, you can sue for a dog bite or attack in the State of Michigan if you suffered an injury.  You have the right to sue regardless if the incident took place on public property, private property, or even the property of the dog owner if you were legally allowed on the property.

Being legally allowed on the property means that the owner of the property invited you as a guest or you were conducting business including a mail courier, delivery driver, salesperson, lawn service, or any other business reason.  If you were trespassing on the property when you were bitten or attacked, it can be exceedingly difficult to sue the owner for negligence.

Homeowners insurance claims relating to a dog attack are quite common.  33% of all homeowner claims are involving a dog bite and insurance companies paid out over $300 million to victims just last year alone in the U.S. according to the Humane Society.

In order to win compensation for a dog bite or attack injury in Michigan, you must prove that the owner of the pet was negligent.  There are 4 major elements to proving this negligence which are as follows.

  1. Duty of Care
  2. Breach of Duty
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

Duty of care relates to every dog owner having a responsibility to reasonably looking after their pet.  You must be able to prove they did not fulfill this duty.  This can include failing to have their dog on a leash or not securing their dog when a business transaction was taking place.  You must also be able to prove damages.  It is important to keep track of all the medical bills that you have incurred and to document all your injuries with photographs or videos.  Your word is not good enough and you must be able to provide sufficient evidence.

How Much Is My Dog Bite Settlement Worth?

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for determining the value of the average dog bite or attack settlement.  Every case is different, and the settlement is based upon many factors.  Some of these major factors include:

  • Severity of the injuries
  • Age of the bite victim
  • Sex of the bite victim
  • Where the bite or injuries are located
  • Nerve Damage
  • Muscle Damage
  • Extent of Medical Treatment
  • Future medical treatment
  • Permanency of scarring and disfigurement
  • Mental anguish and trauma sustained
  • Total cost of medical expenses
  • Lost income or wage loss

The most common limiting factor in dog bite cases is the amount of insurance available.  If the dog owner has little insurance and does not have many assets, it can severely lower the amount of compensation that you can collect even if you have severe injuries with lifelong consequences.  We have successfully handled dozens of dog bite cases and know how to get you the most compensation for your case.

How Long Can I Sue After The Incident?

You have up to 3 years to file a lawsuit for a dog bite in the State of Michigan.  It is also referred to as a statute of limitations.  Essentially this means that if you do not file within 3 years of the date of the incident, then you lose your ability to collect compensation and your claim is destroyed.

There is an exception if the victim is a child under the age of 18.  If the bitten victim is a child, then they have until their 19th birthday to file a lawsuit.

If you fail to file a claim as in adult in under 3 years or after the 19th birthday of a child that was bitten, you will not be able to recover compensation for medical expenses and pain/suffering.  For this reason, it is important to hire a dog bite attorney to start your case and make sure that you don’t miss these deadlines.

Dog Bite Statistics

  • Around 4.6 million people are victims of dog bites every year
  • Over 750,000 of those dog bites require medical treatment
  • Roughly 1,000 people in the US require emergency treatment every day in the U.S
  • People have around a 1 in 112,400 chance of being involved in a dog attack fatality
  • Over 50% of bite victims are bitten at home
  • Pit Bulls were responsible for 26 deaths in 2018
  • Over 25,000 people elected to have reconstructive surgery from dog bites in 2018
  • Homeowners insurance paid out nearly $800 million in dog-related injuries in 2019
  • Household with 2 or more dogs are 5x more likely to be bitten than those without dogs
  • Dog attack victims suffer over $1billion in financial losses every year and some estimate this at $2billion

Investigating Dog Bites

At The Clark Law Office, our Lansing dog bite attorneys have extensive experience handling complex dog bite cases, and we understand what evidence to collect and recover to build a strong case against negligent pet owners.  We will help strengthen your case by:

  • Documenting ownership of the dog
  • Finding and interviewing eyewitness testimonies of the bite or attack
  • Collecting reports of past violence or aggressive behavior of the dog
  • Obtaining medical and vaccination records of the dog

Contact a Lansing Dog Bite Lawyer.  Free Consultation

Our personal injury 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 and avoid the common mistakes made in dog bite cases. 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 dog bite injury cases unless you win and offer free consultations to all of our clients. Contact us today and find out how we can help you recover damages for medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering and other costs.

Michigan Dog Bite Resources