Dog Bite Statute

Michigan has a dog bite statute. It makes the "owner" of a dog responsible if the dog "bites" someone and causes injury. This is the law that does away with the "first bite" rule and makes the "owner" strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog. The law, though, is very narrow. It applies only to "owner" of the dog and only for dog "bites" (not scratches, not being knocked down).


The only two defenses available to the dog owner are: (1) if the victim was trespassing, and/or (2) if the victim "provoked" the dog. The term "provoked" has been interpreted very broadly by the courts, including the hugging of a dog by a child.

Dog Bite Common Law

If the dog bite statute doesn't apply, a case can still exist under what is known as "common law". This would apply to (1) of person who keeps a dog but is not the actual owner, and (2) where the dog didn't exactly bite someone but still caused injuries. Basically, it involves showing that the dog owner had some knowledge of the dog's propensities towards injuring someone or in some other way being negligent, such as not complying with a local leash ordinance.


We have successfully handled several cases where a dog has caused a person on a bicycle or motorcycle to fall and be injured because the dog ran in front of or in some way contributed to the accident. This would involve an unrestrained dog.


The bottom line of all this is that, if there is a serious dog bite injury, you should call our office so that we can analyze this for you from the information provided. We will tell you whether or not we think there is a chance of a case or not, and if there is, handle it for you on the basis that, if there was no recovery, there would be no fee.


Photographs of the injuries, when they first occur are at their most graphic and absolutely should be taken. Prompt notification of local animal control provides proper identification and handling of the situation.


If you don't want to hire me, you don't have to call. There is no obligation or charge.