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Dog Bite Liability In Michigan

Dog Bite Liability In Michigan

by Bret Schnitzer

Dog bite cases are covered by Michigan Legislative Statute MCL 287.351. This statute eliminates the “one bite rule” that was generally found in common law. In Michigan you do not need to establish that the dog had bitten before or known to have a vicious propensity in order to recover damages for a dog bite.

It is, however, important to identify the dog and to immediately contact animal control and make a report right away. Most homeowners policies insure dog owners for dog bites or dog attacks and will both defend and pay for injuries sustained from a dog bite or dog attack. Once ownership of the dog has been established there are only two main defenses to a dog bite attack. The insurance company for the dog owner may try to establish that the victim was “trespassing”. In most cases this defense will fail. The Second defense is that the dog bite victim “provoked the dog”.

It is always a good idea to politely reject any requests by the insurance company for a recorded statement. Contact an attorney right away after a dog bite. Our Attorneys have handled hundreds of dog bite case over the past 25 years. Everything from a puncture wound bite on the leg to horrendous dog attacks resulting in facial, body scarring, significant physical injuries and severe emotional harm.

We recently recovered over $300,000.00 for a dog bite child victim who was mauled in an unprovoked attack.In addition, we have over 25 years of outstanding results for our clients for dog bite claims. Call us for a free consultation at (313) 389-2234. We are here to help.

MCL 287.351 Person bitten by dog; liability of owner.

Sec. 1. (1) 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.

(2) 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.

What Constitutes Provocation?

Brans v Extrom, 266 Mich App 216; 701 NW2d 163 (2005) the plaintiff accidentally stepped on the dog’s tail, causing the dog to bite the plaintiff’s leg. A jury found this to be adequate provocation. The Court of Appeals denied the dog owner a new trial by holding that the plaintiff’s intent was immaterial. The question of provocation is generally a jury question.


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