If you suffer a dog bite in Michigan, you may be entitled to compensation. The owner of the dog is strictly liable for unprovoked dog bites if the victim was not trespassing or performing an unlawful or illegal act.
In this case, liability is usually based on the doctrines of scienter, negligence, or intentional tort. It is therefore important to choose an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer who can help you win the highest settlement.
Before filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will investigate and gather evidence such as photographs, videos, and witness statements. Most dog bite lawyers in Michigan have investigators and professional photographers to document the case and show the severity of your injuries.
Michigan Dog Bite Statute
If you have suffered a dog bite, you have up to 3 years to file a lawsuit. Michigan is one of the few states that hold dog owners liable for dog bite injuries. The strict liability statute in Michigan means that the owner cannot escape liability even if it is the first time the dog has bitten someone.
Whether the dog owner knew that the dog was dangerous or not, the dog owner is automatically liable as long as:
- The victim did not provoke the dog
- The victim was not trespassing or performing an illegal or unlawful act
- The victim was lawfully allowed to be on the premises where the dog bite happened
Of course, the strict liability statute is only applicable to dog bites. If a large dog jumps on you and knocks you down causing injury, you cannot file a dog bite claim. However, you may be able to sue the dog owner for negligence if they did not use reasonable care to control the dog.
Should You Hire a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer?
Every year, there are over 4.7 million dog bites with up to 800,00 requiring medical care. Most victims claim they were bitten by familiar dogs.
In fact, adults who have two or more dogs are most likely to be bitten by their dogs. Michigan is ranked as the 6th state with the highest number of fatal dog attacks.
The consequences of a dog bite can be disastrous. Many people have suffered permanent disfiguration, infections, nerve damage, and even death. If you survive an attack, it is not uncommon to suffer from psychological damage and post-traumatic stress disorder.
While you do not need an attorney to sue for a dog bite, there are several benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer. These include:
- Reviewing insurance paperwork: It is not uncommon for insurance documents to include language that may negatively impact your case in the future. An attorney will review and verify the documents before you append your signature.
- Represent you in court: If your child has suffered a dog bite, you may need to fight for your claim in court. Hiring a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in the courtroom improves your chances of winning.
- Better settlement: An experienced dog bite attorney will often negotiate a better settlement to ensure you receive maximum compensation. As a result, you are likely to get a higher settlement.
What To If You Have Suffered a Dog Bite in Michigan
In order to successfully file a dog bite claim in Michigan, you must prove that:
- The dog bit you causing injury
- You were not trespassing, or you had permission to be at the location where the dog bite happened
- You did not provoke the dog
- You are filing a claim against the dog owner even if another person had possession of the dog when you were attacked
If you have been bitten by a dog in Michigan, there are several steps you should take.
Prevent further attacks by getting away from the dog. Do not turn your back or attempt to run as this might prompt another attack.
Clean the Wound
Clean any superficial wounds with soap and water. Dry the affected area, apply antibacterial lotion, or cream and cover it with a bandage. If the skin is broken, press it to promote controlled bleeding and remove germs. For deeper wounds, press the area to stop the bleeding.
Get the Dog Owner’s Information
Take the dog owner’s contact information including their address. Ask about the dog’s vaccination and consider taking their veterinarian’s contact details.
If the owner was not present at the time of the attack, talk to witnesses and find out their information. Witness testimonies and statements can help your case and improve your chances of winning.
Take pictures of the dog, damaged belongings, torn clothes, your wounds, and the exact area where you were attacked.
Notify Animal Control
Report the attack to animal control to:
- Prevent the dog from attacking others
- Find out whether the dog was abused or neglected and get information to support your claim
Get Medical Attention
See a doctor to determine the severity of your injuries. While some injuries require stitches, others are left open to heal and reduce the risk of infection. In some cases, you may need surgery to correct damage to your muscles, tissues, or bones.
Contact a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer
Your lawyer should investigate and gather evidence including photographs and witness testimonies. They should also document any damages you suffered as a result of the dog bite such as:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Emotional trauma
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Cost of mobility aids
- Diminished quality of living
After determining the value of your claim, the dog bite lawyer will send a demand letter to the dog owner’s insurance.
Your lawyer will then negotiate a settlement after which the insurance might settle your claim out of court. Most cases end with a settlement after successful negotiations with the claims adjuster.
If you cannot agree on a settlement amount, your lawyer will file a Michigan Dog Bite Claim and Jury Demand. The judge will then grant you a trial date.
How Much Does a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer Cost?
Most Michigan dog bite lawyers do not charge any fees upfront. Instead, they charge a contingency fee. This means that your lawyer will work on your case at no cost until you receive a settlement. Their fee is a percentage of your settlement.
If you or a loved one have suffered from a dog bite, get in touch with an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer to help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries.