Dogs can be man’s best friend – until you become the victim of a serious dog bite.
According to DogsBite.org, a public education website dedicated to the rights of dog bite victims, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Each day, over 1,000 persons are treated in hospital emergency departments for dog bite-related injuries. Nearly 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected. According to Moneywise magazine, Michigan ranks 7th in the nation for the worst states for dog bites (as of July, 2020).
More than half of dog bite victims are bit at home, and/or by dogs that are familiar to them. Children are the most common victims of dog bites, followed by senior citizens, then postal carriers.
If you have been bit by a dog in Michigan, it is important to act quickly, and to call an attorney who understands Michigan dog bite law. Hakim, Toma & Yaldoo’s experience serving the needs of Michigan’s dog bite victims ensures we will fight for you, protect your rights, maximize your settlement, and help you through this painful and confusing time.
Do I Need a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer?
In Michigan, dog bites are governed by a “strict liability” statute – which means that dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. A dog’s previous “good behavior” does not shield the dog owner from responsibility. Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute (MCL 287.351), states:
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.
What Do I Do If I Have Been Bitten by a Dog?
Getting bitten by a dog requires you to act quickly to address your injuries and isolate the animal:
- Call Animal Control. The animal control officer will investigate and write an incident report, determine who owned the dog, check the health of the dog (for rabies, and/or other disease or infection) and possibly quarantine the dog.
- Document Your Injuries from the Dog Bite and Details of the Incident: Take photos of your injuries and note where on your body the dog bit you, along with the details of the dog bite incident. Include the following:
- address/geographic location of where the incident occurred
- circumstances under which the dog bit you (for example, were you on the dog owner’s property? Was the dog on a leash?)
- type of dog, photos of the dog, whether the dog wore a collar and tags (if you are able)
- any witness testimonies you can secure
- Wash Your Wounds Seek Medical Attention. Even if the dog is not determined to have rabies, bacteria from dog bites can cause serious illness, possibly death, even if the bite does not appear to be severe.
- Call Hakim, Toma & Yaldo. Call us to discuss your situation. We are here to help.
What Kind of Injuries Can a Dog Bite Cause?
If you have never been bit by a dog, it is hard to imagine how potentially damaging a dog bite can be. Common injuries caused by dog bites can include:
- Puncture Wounds: Although puncture wounds from dog bites may not bleed profusely, they can be dangerous and should be treated immediately. Puncture wounds can go deep within the flesh, making them prone to infection. Those suffering from puncture wounds from a dog bite or animal attack should visit a doctor, clean and dress the wound thoroughly, and take prescribed antibiotics.
- Infection: Since dog bites and scratches involve dog teeth and paws, chances of infection are great – dogs can be covered in soil, waste, bacteria, and other unclean materials that could be transferred to wounds during an animal attack. Signs of a dog bite infection include redness, swelling, pus, tenderness, and heat.
- Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement: Even though most dog bites will heal, some, especially children, could be left with permanent. These scars may change the quality of life for the dog bite victim, stealing from them self-confidence and perhaps the chance for a normal life. Many suffering from facial scarring in the wake of a dog bite attack require painful, expensive reconstructive surgery.
- Nerve Damage. Dogs can bite deep and hard – many times damaging the nerves in a person’s face, neck, arms, or legs. Dog bite nerve damage can lead to mobility issues and chronic pain long after the initial wounds from a dog attack have healed.
- Emotional Damages and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Especially when children are bitten or attacked by dogs, the injuries go deeper than physical wounds – many parents report nightmares, a fear of going outside, a fear of dogs, lasting psychological damage and other symptoms of trauma that may require post-injury therapy.
How Do I Successfully Win a Dog Bite Case?
Michigan law allows a dog bite victim to take legal action against up to three years from the date of the attack (or up to age 19, if the dog bite victim was a minor at the time of injury).
To win a dog bite case in Michigan, the plaintiff (the individual who was bitten) must prove three key elements:
- The person being sued (defendant) was the owner of the dog that attacked: While it is not always apparent who the dog owner is, the owner usually can be identified by licensing and vaccination records, as well as the testimony of witnesses.
- The dog bit the victim: This can usually be established with photographs, medical records, witness statements or other evidence that the dog caused substantial physical harm.
- The dog bite caused injury: Finally, medical records and testimony from the injured plaintiff will establish that the dog bite did, in fact, cause injury to the plaintiff.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite, call Hakim, Toma & Yaldoo to discuss your case. We are here to help.
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