According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 77 million dogs are living in United States homes. While Dogs are a man’s best friend, they can also be our worst enemy as millions of people (mostly children) are bitten by dogs each year. If a dog owner has not secured his dog and it has bitten someone, that owner is responsible to make the injured victim whole again.
Dog bites account for a staggering amount of injuries each year in the United States. Close to a million dog bite attacks happen every year in the United States resulting in serious injuries and even death. In fact, you have probably heard of certain communities attempting to legislate the danger away by banning certain types of breeds from living in their neighborhoods. Regardless of the breed, any dog can cause significant harm and the costs of the dog bite attacks in medical bills alone can be staggering. Equally, if not more staggering, can be the emotional distress inflicted upon a dog bite victim, especially if the bite results in visible scarring.What to Do After a Dog Bite Attack
After you have made sure the dog bite victim is safe or at least receiving proper medical attention, it is important to do the following:
- Determine the name of the dog
- Find out who the dog’s owner is (name, address, phone number, etc.)
- Identify all witnesses to the attack and make sure you obtain their contact information
- Photograph where the attack happened
- Get immediate medical attention from a qualified doctor
- Photograph the injuries if possible (Photographs taken by emergency personnel or a doctor are best)
- If possible, have DNA testing and mouth casting performed before the dog is destroyed if there is any question as to the identity of the dog that bit you.”
In Michigan, there is dog bite statute, MCL 287.351(1). Under that statute, if a dog bites you, the owner is almost always found to be responsible and liable for your damages. There are really only two exceptions to finding the owner responsible and they are 1) trespassing and 2) provocation. So, if you are trespassing on the owner’s property or causing the animal to become agitated (intentionally or unintentionally) you proceed at your own risk and the dog owner will not be found responsible. Liability can also be established under common law if it can be demonstrated that the dog owner knew or had reason to know of the animal’s vicious nature but did nothing to prevent the attack from occurring. Most municipalities also have "leash laws" that require dogs be on a leash and restrained in certain circumstances. If a dog gets loose and causes injury, whether by bite or some other reason, the dog owner could be held responsible for failing to control the dog.
According to the Insurance Information Institute in 2020, Michigan recorded 633 dog related insurance claims with an average cost-of claim of $45,317 for a total of $28,700,000 in insurance payouts. In a majority of cases, the dog owner's Homeowner's Insurance Policy will cover a dog bite victim's damages, up to the limits of liability coverage chosen by the dog owner. In Michigan, insurance companies are prohibited from denying, cancelling or non-renewing coverage based on an insured's possession of a particular animal. Damages recoverable from a negligent dog owner and/or his/her insurance company might include medical and prescription expense, wage loss, and compensation for pain and suffering stemming from the attack.
If you or someone you know was attacked or bitten by a dog, use the contact us form, call 248-865-7740 or email Neil personally at Neil@NDavisLaw.com as soon as possible so we can discuss your case in detail and give you our best advice on how to proceed.