What Dog Owners and Victims Need to Know About Dog Bite Laws

little white Chihuahua chews woman’s finger

Canine bites can be as unfortunate for the owner of a dog as they are for the victim. Some states have incredibly strict liability laws when it comes to the behavior of a family pet.

In the state of Michigan, there are different laws that govern the way a dog bite is handled. Factors are considered like whether the dog has a history of this kind of attack, whether the bite stemmed from an owner’s carelessness, and whether the animal was provoked.

If you’re bitten by a dog, or if your pet bites someone else you need to know how those laws will affect your case. Keep reading to find out more.

One Bite Rules

In many states, an owner doesn’t have to relinquish a pet after the first time it has bitten someone. Instead, the incident is put on record and the dog is considered “demonstratively vicious”. At that point, the owner would be notified of the violent tendencies of the dog and would be liable for any further attacks.

But in Michigan, there isn’t a “one bite rule”. Under the law, a dog owner is liable for the first bite their dog takes as long as the victim was not provoking the dog and was lawfully on the property.

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Provocation Defense

The only defense a dog owner has when their pet bites someone in Michigan is the provocation defense. You can be barred from recovering anything for your injuries if the court finds that the dog was pushed to act, even if it wasn’t intentional.

For example, if you were to step on a dog’s tail and it snapped at you, then you may not have a claim for your injuries. Any act that is considered to make a regular dog bite can be defined as provocation for this purpose.

Unlawful Presence Defense

In order to recover for your injuries from a dog bite, you have to have been either on public land or on private property that you have been invited to.

If you are there to commit a crime or trespass, then you have no defense.

Circumstantial Reasoning for Canine Bite

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were surrounding canine bites. In the state of Michigan, it’s irrelevant whether or not you knew your pet could be dangerous.

You could have a pet that has been well behaved all its life but you will still be liable for the first mistake the dog makes.

Owner Negligence

Court cases for canine bites can go beyond the injury. Owners can be prosecuted for their negligence if they failed to take the steps necessary to secure or supervise their pet.

This could be as simple as not putting a leash on the dog, or not posting a sign warning of a dangerous pet in the house.

Pursuing a Case

Whether you have recently been injured by someone else’s pet, or you are facing litigation for your own pet’s mistake, you could use the advice of legal counsel.

Contact us today for a case evaluation.