Many people in Michigan keep dogs as pets. However, some dogs are vicious, and even dogs that are not vicious by disposition may have an unexplained and unexpected episode of aggression. Dog bites may be traumatic and result in permanent scars or disfigurement. If you were attacked by a dog, you may be able to hold the owners of the dog liable with the assistance of an injury lawyer. At Feldheim & Wilenkin, our Detroit dog bite attorneys understand how frightening and painful these episodes may be. We represent people who have suffered from dog bites on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we get paid only if we recover damages for you.Holding an Owner Accountable for a Dog Bite
In some states, dog bites are covered by common law, but in Michigan, they are covered under MCLA section 287.351. Under this law, to recover damages for a dog bite, you will need to prove that the dog bite caused your injuries, you did not provoke the dog, and you were either in a public place or a lawful visitor in a private location where the bite occurred.
The statute provides for strict liability, except when the victim provoked the animal. This means that the dog owner will not be able to avoid paying your damages by arguing that they did not know that the dog was dangerous or had a tendency to bite. Instead, an owner may be held responsible for even an unexpected dog bite, even if the dog is otherwise well-behaved or docile and has never bitten anyone before.
The law only applies to bites, rather than to attacks that do not involve biting, such as being knocked down by a big dog. In those cases, a theory of negligence may apply. For example, if your child is teasing a dog through a fence, and the dog jumps out and jumps on your child, the theory under which compensation may be sought probably will be negligence. This requires that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.
Dog owners may defend themselves from the application of the strict liability statute either if the dog was provoked or if the person who was bitten was trespassing. If you tease a dog to get it worked up and then get bitten, you cannot recover damages. What counts as provocation may sometimes be a tricky question, since actions that a dog owner might see as provoking may not be actions that you intended to be so. The question that must be answered is whether a reasonable person would think that your actions would have caused an ordinary dog to bite someone.
If you were unlawfully on someone else's property, the dog owner may claim that you were trespassing. In Michigan, when someone is trespassing at the time of being bitten by a dog, they may not be able to recover damages.Consult an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney in the Detroit Area
Dog bites are terrifying, and they may change the way that you interact with dogs for the rest of your life. The Detroit dog bite lawyers at Feldheim & Wilenkin represent victims across Southeast Michigan, including in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. The scars and disfigurement that a dog bite victim suffers may be significant, and we strive to help victims recover the greatest possible amount of damages. Call us at 248-737-0700 or contact us via our online form to set up a free appointment. We also represent people who need a premises liability attorney or assistance with a car accident case, a medical malpractice action, or another personal injury claim.