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Michigan’s Dog Bite Laws

Michigan’s dog bite law is ensconced in Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated under MI ST 287.321 – 323. The law applies not only to dogs but to “dangerous” animals which are defined as any “animal that bites or attacks a person, or a dog that bites or attacks and causes serious injury or death to another dog while the other dog is on the property or under the control of its owner.” An exception to this definition is when an attack occurs when the injury victim is trespassing on the animal owner’s property or assaulting the animal’s owner, or if the person is tormenting or provoking the animal. If it is proven that the animal attacked without provocation or reasonable cause, it can lead to the destruction of the animal, and certain criminal and civil liabilities to the animal’s owner.

Under MI ST 287.351, the liability of the dog’s owner to a person who sustained injuries from a dog bite or attack depends on whether the dog was provoked, the actions of the owner, the location of the attack and the status of the dog bite victim. The website of law firm Ravid & Associates, P.C., of Detroit states that owners should provide training and place their dog under reasonable restraint. It there was no provocation or reasonable cause for attack, and the injured party was on public property or legally on private property as an invitee or licensee of the property owner, then the liability is clear.

A person found to be liable for an animal attack which results in death is subject to the Penal Code of Michigan (MCL 750.321) and is considered guilty of involuntary manslaughter. This carries a penalty of not more than 15 years in prison or $7,500 in fines, or both. In case of serious injury, the defendant is guilty of a felony and may go to prison for not more than 4 years, a fine of $2,000, a minimum of 500 hours community service, or any combination of the three. For less serious injuries, the charges can be dropped to a misdemeanor (not more than 90 days in prison, a minimum fine of $250 and at least 240 hours community service, or combination).

Aside from criminal charges, this breach of duty as an animal owner also exposes that person to civil action. If you have been injured from a dog bite through the negligence of the dog owner, you may be able to prove it in court and get compensation for your injuries. Consult with a dog bite lawyer in your area and get started.

Consequences of Dog Bites

Under Michigan’s strict liability law, owners of dogs are vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits because it only takes one instance of an unprovoked attack to put them at fault. It does not matter if the dog has no previous record of dog bites or that there has been any warning that the dog could turn dangerous. If the dog bites an individual who is on public property or legitimately on private property as a licensee or invitee and without provocation, then that is considered an instance of negligence.

According to the website of Detroit law firm Ravid & Associates, P.C., dog owners have the responsibility to ensure that their dogs are properly restrained when on public property or when there are other people on their property who have permission to be on the premises. Even small dogs who may seem harmless can deliver a nasty bite which can result in relatively minor injuries which can later develop complications such as rabies or other infections. At the very least, such dog bites can leave scars.

Larger dogs are more difficult to restrain, so they should be given the proper training to make them easier to control. Large dogs are potentially more dangerous and can cause serious injury or death if they attack a person. Serious injuries include nasty gashes or gouges that will leave permanent and disfiguring scars, broken bones that may not heal properly, amputations, profuse bleeding, and the dangers of infection. Dog owners have no right to expose others to unreasonable risk of harm, and should take steps to ensure that they have complete control over them.

If you or someone close to you has been a victim of dog bites, bring your case before a dog bite lawyer and get their legal advice. Dog owner who will not live up to their responsibilities should be made to pay for their negligence, not you.

Dog Bite Liability Rules

Dog bites have become a common cause of many personal injury lawsuits. With millions of American households having dogs for pets, the probability of suffering a dog bite has increased as well, and this is mainly because of many pet owners not knowing the needs, characteristics, and temperament of the dogs that they acquire. Poor training and lack of understanding of their needs is what can cause dogs to become aggressive and attack innocent people.

States have their own rules regarding dog laws and owner’s liability. There are, however, two main laws that generally govern over the liability of each dog owner, along with their responsibilities once their pet/pets have bitten another person:

  • The Strict Liability Rule – this rule states that every owner is responsible for any injury that their dog has done to another person. The basic premise of this rule is the simple ownership of the dog. States where this rule applies consider that even if you are not negligent of your dog, unaware of their tendencies, and have not violated any dog laws, if you have been determined to be the owner gives you the legal responsibility of compensating the person your dog have bitten.
  • The “One-Bite” Rule – states that follow this rule permits the owner of the dog to not be liable for a dog’s first dog bite or injury to another person as long as the dog owner has not been negligent in controlling the dog. However, this rule does not protect the owner from liability if the owner violates any protective dog laws such as required dog leashes, etc. Because of the many actions and behaviors that can constitute to a dog’s propensity, many states have been trying to use the Strict Liability Rule rather than this one.

Dog bites can cause not only physical pain and mental anguish to its victim; a serious dog bite can leave the victim with financial burdens that can be hard to deal with. Serious dog bites can be compensated, therefore finding a helpful and personal injury lawyer specializing in this area is the best way to help in acquiring the necessary financial help and to ensure that the dog will not be able to cause harm to others in the future.