Dog owners are responsible for the harm that results when their pets bite or otherwise attack people. The damages recoverable depend on where and how the attack occurred and the types of injuries suffered. At the Hamo Law Firm in Flint, we have represented individuals throughout Michigan in personal injury cases for nearly four decades. If you or a family member has been injured by another person’s dog, our attorneys will assert claims for the full compensation and damages you are entitled to.
Michigan’s dog bite statute imposes strict liability on dog owners for bite injuries. That means the owner can be made to pay damages even if the animal had not exhibited signs of viciousness in the past. However, the victim must not have provoked the dog and must have been on public property or lawfully on private property when the attack occurred.
The strict liability statute applies only to injuries caused by the dog bite itself, not to other harm suffered. But a person attacked by a dog may also bring a negligence claim under Michigan common law. This requires showing that the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities and failed to take reasonable measures to confine or restrain the animal. Negligence can also be proved by showing the owner violated state or local leash laws or animal control laws.
The type of claim brought determines the defenses available to the dog owner. For strict liability, the only defenses are that the victim was a trespasser and/or provoked the dog to attack. For negligence, the owner may also demonstrate that reasonable measures were taken to keep the dog from contact with people. Another defense is assumption of the risk, namely that the victim voluntarily approached a dog that he or she knew or should have known to be dangerous.
A dog bite can cause scarring, disfigurement, nerve damage and even physical disability. Other types of harm not related to a bite can also result. A dog may knock the victim to the ground or against a hard surface, causing back or head injuries. A victim may seek compensation for medical bills, plastic surgery, therapy, rehabilitation and lost income and for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.
A victim whose behavior played a role in the attack may not be able to recover full compensation. Under Michigan’s modified comparative fault rule, a plaintiff’s percentage of fault cannot exceed 50 percent. Our lawyers analyze the evidence and make the best case possible for establishing the dog owner’s major share of liability for the attack.
Located in Flint, the Hamo Law Firm helps victims of dog attacks throughout Michigan pursue fair compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call 810-234-3667 or contact us online.