Understanding Michigan Dog Bite Laws

michigan dog bite laws

Overview of Dog Bite and Leash Laws in Michigan

Coming into contact with dogs is inevitable, whether you have a pet of your own or not. In ordinary circumstances, those who do not want to have direct contact with dogs are able to avoid them successfully in parks, sidewalks and cafes where they frequent. However, some dogs can be aggressive and may provoke attacks on the general public. This can be a scary experience, especially if you have a child with you at the time. After a dog bite injury, it’s important to understand the nuances of Michigan dog bite laws.

If a dog in Michigan has injured you or your child, you may be able to make a personal injury claim against the dog owner. This is true regardless of whether the attack occurred on private property or in a public place. It is important that you understand the Michigan state dog bite laws, so that you can take the appropriate action after a dog attack to protect your rights. Contact a Michigan dog bite lawyer with Lipton Law at 248-557-1688 today.

Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute: Michigan Compiled Laws Section 287.351

The most prominent Michigan dog bite law, Section 287.351 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, clearly outlines the liability of dog owners in the event of a dog bite. According to the Michigan law, dog owner liability is as follows.

“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.

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.”

Does Michigan Have a One Bite Rule?

No, Michigan does not have a “one bite” rule as many other states do. A one bite rule would release the owner of the dog from liability for the first bite. However, the owner must take note of the dog’s “vicious behavior” as demonstrated by the bite.

Rather than having a one bite rule, Michigan dog bite law involves strict liability for the dog owner. We will explain strict liability in more detail in a later section.

What Are the Elements of a Dog Bite Case in Michigan?

dog bite laws michigan

To have a successful dog bite claim in Michigan, one must meet certain requirements and prove certain facts. The necessary elements in a Michigan dog bite case are as follows.

  • The dog caused the victim’s injuries.
  • They were legally allowed to be in the place where the bite occurred. In other words, they were not trespassing.
  • They did not provoke the dog in some way, even unintentionally.
  • The claim is against the dog owner and not someone else who had the dog when the bite occurred, but who has no legal control of the dog.

A dog attack victim must prove the above to have a chance at securing a recovery for their injuries. The most common point of contention in dog bite cases is whether or not the dog bite occurred after provocation by the victim.

Injury to a Person

When a dog bite attack occurs, the dog’s owner will be liable for any damages caused to the victim. This is true as long as the victim was not trespassing and did not provoke the dog to bite. Unfortunately for victims, dog bite injuries can inflict not only physical damage, but also mental and emotional damage.

Some of the most common physical injuries suffered by dog bite victims include the following.

  • Deep cuts and lacerations
  • Crushing injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Infections
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Chronic pain
  • Nerve damage

So many victims are left with scars that serve as painful reminders of the trauma they endured. However, many victims also bear emotional scars from their attacks. Some of the most common forms of emotional trauma from dog bites include the following.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Irritable moods
  • Cynophobia (fear of dogs)

Michigan State Dog Bite Laws: Strict Liability for Owners

In some states, owners are not held liable for damages when their dog bites for the first time. However, the law is stricter in Michigan, and owners will be held responsible for the dog’s actions as long as the injured person did not attack or provoke the dog. If the bite occurred on the dog owner’s property, the victim must have had permission to be there when it happened.

Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in Michigan?

Technically, no. Michigan doctors are not required by law to report dog bite injuries to the police. However, they must report the bite to the public health agencies where the victim lives and where the bite occurred, if the two locations are different. The purpose of reporting dog bite cases to health agencies is to assess victims for rabies exposure.

Michigan Leash Laws

Michigan has strict leash laws for pet owners, particularly regarding dogs. In public spaces, it is illegal for an owner to allow their dog off-leash. It is a strict statute carrying harsh punishments, such as a misdemeanor charge and up to $10,000 in fines. Stricter still, many cities in Michigan also have requirements on leash length.

Licensing and Pet Tags in Michigan

Every Michigan dog owner must register a new dog with the county where they live. They have a 6-month window during which to do this. A dog license can be obtained from a county government office or online.

Once the owner obtains the license, they must affix it to their dog’s collar. They must also obtain dog tags for current information on the dog’s shots and vaccinations. These can be obtained from a veterinarian.

Damages for Michigan Dog Attack Case

michigan dog bite statute

If you decide to make a claim against the dog owner for the damages suffered, you should receive compensation for the medical expenses, as well as for the pain and suffering caused. This can include dog bite-induced trauma, medical expenses, and a list of other options for dog bite victims.

It is important that you take swift action to hold a dog owner responsible for the actions of their dog. By doing so, you will have a better chance of being successful. Contact an experienced Michigan dog attack lawyer for a free consultation.

Michigan Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Lawsuits

The Michigan dog bite statute of limitations allows victims to file claims up to three years from the date of the bite. If the victim fails to file a claim within this three-year window, it is highly unlikely that a court will hear their case.

This is why speaking with a dog bite lawyer is so crucial. They can investigate your claim, gather evidence, and ensure that you file a case with the court before the Michigan personal injury statute of limitations expires.

Contact a Southfield Dog Bite Lawyer with Lipton Law Today

If you are a dog bite victim, it is crucial that you speak with our experienced dog bite attorneys as soon as possible. The attorneys at Lipton Law have extensive experience fighting for the rights of those injured due to another’s negligence. Negligent dog owners must be held accountable for that negligence, and victims must be made whole through fair compensation. To schedule a free consultation about your case, call us today at 248-557-1688.