After being bitten by a dog, you might feel unlucky or one in a million. However, this kind of injury is fairly common—approximately 17,000 dog bite claims are filed in the US each year.
Getting bitten by a dog, or any type of domestic animal, can be very serious. Therefore, anyone who suffers significant injury or distress deserves to be compensated.
Dog bite compensation can be complex depending on the situation. However, with the help of a skilled dog bite lawyer, you can rest easy knowing you or your child will get the justice you deserve.
Below, we outline everything you need to know about Michigan dog bite laws, injury compensation amounts, how liability is determined, and what you need to do next (before time runs out).
How Are Settlements Decided?
All dog bite cases are unique, and there are many factors that contribute to determining the size of a settlement. These settlements can range anywhere from $1,000 to $1 million.
Settlements are dependent upon factors including, but not limited to:
- Size, location, and severeness of scars, cuts, or disfigurements
- Medical treatment or surgery needed
- Psychological and/or emotional damages
- Permanency of injuries
- Amount of lost wages from time off work
- City or state where the dog bite occurred
Because of all these factors, it’s hard to gauge a true average. However, it typically lands somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000.
Who Is Responsible, According to Michigan Dog Bite Laws?
There are a couple ways to determine who is responsible in dog bites incidents, and how much compensation, if any, a victim receives.
If The Dog Was Provoked
One defense that the owner can use is provocation. If you were bitten after provoking the dog, then you may not be compensated. An example of intentional provocation would be hitting or tormenting the dog.
Provocation doesn’t always have to be done intentionally, however. In other words, one may anger the dog accidentally—like stepping on its tail, for example.
If the action would cause a “normal” dog to bite, then it may be considered provocation under Michigan law; automatically dismissing your case.
If The Victim Trespassed
According to Michigan dog bite laws, a dog bite victim may not recover damages if they were unlawfully on private property.
So, even if the victim suffers injury, if they were on someone’s property without their permission and bitten by their dog, the owner may not be liable. However, extenuating circumstances include if the victim was a child, whether or not their fencing is up to city-code, leaving their back gate open, etc.
In Any Other Case, The Owner is Liable
Some states have a “one-bite” rule that relinquishes the owner from liability the first time a dog bites someone. However, Michigan does not.
That means that the dog’s past nature is irrelevant. The dog could’ve been well-behaved its entire life before biting someone. Under this statute, the first bite could result in liability.
In a nutshell: Owners are responsible for dog bite incidents, unless the victim provokes the dog, or has trespassed on private property.
In Michigan, there is a limit for the amount of time a dog bite victim has to file a lawsuit against the owner if they are bitten/injured. The victim must file their claim within three (3) years of the date of the injury.
It’s worth noting that you may plead multiple legal theories for holding the defendant liable in a dog bite claim—you aren’t limited to just one. For example; if a dog comes into your backyard and bites you on your private property, you may plead liability and trespassing.
Additionally, if the dog is known to have previously shown violent behavior, you may also plead negligence. This cites that the owner was clearly displaying carelessness by owning a dog of violent nature.
Dog Bites Are Serious; Get Help From An Experienced Attorney
Getting bitten by someone’s dog is scary, and the added complexities of Michigan dog bite laws make it even more stressful. That’s why you need a skilled, experienced, and compassionate lawyer to help you navigate your case and explain your rights.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog and want compensation, don’t wait for time to run out. Contact the team at Wigod & Falzon today.
Don’t forget; we work on a contingency fee basis, which means no recovery = no fee.