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.

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