Bitten by a Dog? Here’s What You Need to Know

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We think of dogs as man’s best friend, but these pets injure and kill hundreds of people in the country every year. For the victims, these attacks are incredibly traumatic and can lead to serious injuries and long-term health complications.

While animal attacks are common, few or any of us are prepared for that moment when domesticated turns deadly. As such, you may be feeling overwhelmed, unsure of your rights, and how to proceed with your personal injury claim. In this article, we examine Michigan’s dog bite laws and discuss which damages might be available to you in the wake of an attack.

What Is Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute?

Dog owners in the state are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets. In other words, the owner’s responsibility isn’t dependent on recklessness, negligence, or intent, but rather that they always have a duty to prevent their animal from harming other people. As such, even if a dog showed no signs of aggression prior to the attack, the owner is still responsible.

However, there are a few exceptions. Most notably, if the owner can show that you deliberately provoked the animal, they may be able to avoid paying out compensation. The term “provocation” hasn’t been defined by statute, so it’s left to the courts to decide what actions do and don’t constitute provoking an animal. For instance, there have been cases where unintentional actions such as stepping on a dog’s tail were ruled as provocation. You could also be held liable if the owner can prove that you were trespassing on their property when their dog bit you.

What Damages Might Be Recoverable in My Case?

A dog can cause extensive damage when it attacks. Their sharp teeth can rip skin, tear through tissue, and sever arteries. Victims can suffer life-threatening injuries, and many experience scarring or disfigurement once they’ve healed. As such, there might be a wide variety of damages available to you after being bitten, such as:

  • Medical Costs: From the initial hospital visit to procedures to prescription medication, many of the expenses associated with treating a dog bite injury may be recoverable.
  • Lost Earnings: If your injuries prevented you from returning to work, you may be able to seek compensation for lost income. Additionally, if your condition is likely to impede your ability to do your job in the future, you might also be able to pursue damages for loss of future wages.
  • Pain and Suffering: An animal attack can be an incredibly traumatic experience, and the pain associated with your injuries may have a detrimental effect on your quality of life. In Michigan, you have a right to seek compensation for the intangible effects of your condition, such as the emotional distress and loss of enjoyment in life you’ve experienced because of the incident. As there are no bills, invoices, or receipts for such losses, you may have to rely on many kinds of evidence to build a case for non-economic damages, including personal injury journal entries, psychiatric reports, and expert witness deposition.
  • Replacement Services: If anyone—whether it was a family member, friend, or professional—had to step in to oversee duties you would usually tackle on your own, you might be able to pursue compensation for replacement services.

Discuss Your Situation with a Detroit Dog Bite Attorney

If you were bitten by a dog, it may be in your best interests to speak to a skilled personal injury attorney in Detroit. At Seva Law Firm, we know what it takes to succeed in such cases and have helped many of our clients obtain the settlements and verdicts necessary to get their lives back on track. To request a free consultation, reach out to us at (248) 385-5704 or by sending us a message through our Contact Form.