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Michigan Veterinary Technician & Pet Groomer Dog Bite Lawyer

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Veterinary technicians (vet techs) and pet groomers work closely with different breeds of dogs daily, placing themselves in danger of suffering a dog bite. While most dogs aren’t inherently violent, fear of the vet clinic or the tools used at the grooming station may cause them to snap and bite, creating an occupational hazard for workers.

According to the Department of Labor, working in the veterinary field in the United States is more dangerous than a job in law enforcement.

If a dog has injured you in the line of work, the dog bite lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you build a strong dog bite case that proves the negligent party’s liability. Veterinary technicians and dog groomers have the right to sue the dog owner for their injuries. We can help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages resulting from a dog bite injury.

What Are the Expectations of Vet Techs and Pet Groomers?

Veterinary technicians and pet groomers must constantly handle animals and provide various services for animal care. Sometimes, these services may upset the animals and cause them to lash out and bite. It’s essential to understand what a vet tech and pet groomers do to know what could potentially upset the animal.

Veterinary technicians’ responsibilities mirror those of a nurse in a hospital. They assist the veterinarians, do blood tests, take X-rays, communicate with owners, and assess patients. Blood tests specifically can upset dogs because of how the blood is drawn. Most vet techs distract the animal while drawing blood or hold them in a specific way, but sometimes the dog may still bite out of shock.
Pet groomers have different responsibilities that change based on the breed of the dog. These tasks include detangling and removing matted hair, bathing, clipping nails, cleaning ears, and brushing teeth. All these actions require close contact with the animal and can trigger the dog’s self-defense and cause them to bite.

The veterinary technicians and pet groomers are not at fault for performing their responsibilities and not provoking the animal. Under Michigan’s dog bite law, the dog owner is liable for the dog’s actions, with few exceptions. One exception is if the victim provoked the dog to attack, but veterinary technician and pet grooming tasks are not considered a provocation.

Michigan’s Dog Bite Laws

Michigan is a strict liability state, meaning a dog owner is liable if a victim brings a claim against them under the state’s dog bite law. This is regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.

This rule does not apply to all cases, however. If a veterinary technician or groomer provoked the dog into biting them, the victim may be unable to recover damages from the owner.

When Can Veterinary Technicians and Pet Groomers Sue for a Dog Bite?

Michigan’s strict liability law state veterinary technicians and pet groomers can sue the owner for a dog bite. They must prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known it was dangerous.

This was upheld in the case of Rickrode v. Wistinghausen, in which the Court of Appeals of Michigan ruled that the victim only needed to prove that the owner knew or had reason to know of the animal’s unusual, dangerous nature to sue under strict liability.

What is the Provocation Defense?

The provocation defense is the most likely defense an insurance company will employ to avoid paying a large settlement to a veterinary technician or dog groomer. They may argue that the dog bite victim provoked the animal with their behavior, passing on a degree of responsibility to the veterinary technician or pet groomer.

This defense tactic can only be effective if the other side can show the victim provoked the dog attack. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Brans v. Extrom that both intentional and unintentional acts can constitute provocation. In Bradacs v. Jiacobone, the court stated that unintentional provocation requires that the dog’s response be proportional to the victim’s behavior, such as stepping on its tail.

Dog bite victims can avoid falling victim to the provocation defense by hiring an attorney who can build a strong strategy that will refute these arguments. At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., our team has the legal experience and a thorough understanding of medical issues, so your claim is backed by solid evidence.

Assumption of Risk Defense

In some cases, the dog’s owner may raise the assumption of risk defense. Assumption of risk implies that the victim knowingly did something that may cause the animal to attack. This defense is not applicable in Michigan because it is covered under provocation, and it is the pet owner’s responsibility to warn a vet tech or pet groomer of a dangerous animal.

While some tasks that veterinary technicians and pet groomers perform may startle an animal, these responsibilities are not considered a provocation and do not warrant an aggressive response such as biting from the animal.

A veterinary technician and pet groomer should not assume an animal is dangerous and, therefore, a risk to them. The owner must notify the appropriate personnel to ensure their animal is handled properly to prevent any biting. If the owner fails to warn the veterinarian and their employees about the possibility of the dog biting, they could be liable for injuries.

However, across the nation, some courts have considered vet techs and pet groomers keepers of the dogs in their care, as in the case Salisbury v. Ferioli (Mass. Ct. App. 2000). But others disagree and say only those who have permanent possession of the dog are responsible for its behavior, as in the case Collins v. Kenealy (Iowa 1992).

If you’ve been bitten by a dog while doing your job, contact our law firm for a free case review so we can discuss the circumstances of your situation and determine your next steps.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

When a dog bites a veterinarian or pet groomer, it can result in injuries ranging from superficial lacerations to life-threatening infections. Veterinarian technicians and pet groomers can sustain these injuries due to a vicious dog not being handled correctly by its owner.


Puncture wounds from a dog bite can become dangerous because of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth, such as Capnocytophaga. It can lead to serious health problems, including fever, muscle aches, and joint pain. Once symptoms appear, the infection can become life-threatening and even cause death within 24 to 72 hours.

Dog bites can cause several other viral or bacterial infections, including:

  • Meningitis
  • Cellulitis
  • Lymphangitis
  • Endocarditis
  • Tetanus
  • Rabies

Rabies is a serious and potentially fatal disease that affects the nervous system upon exposure to an infected dog through its bite. The virus travels from the site of the bite to the brain, where it causes inflammation and symptoms such as fever, headache, and anxiety.

Eye Injuries

A dog can bite around the face, damaging the tear ducts, bones, and muscles in the eye areas. A dog’s puncture wounds are likely to cause damage to the canaliculi or lower margins of the eyelids.

Head and Neck Injuries

Since veterinary technicians and dog groomers work closely with dogs, they are vulnerable to injuries to their head and neck. Common head and neck injuries include fractures, lacerations, and puncture wounds. In some cases, victims may also suffer from facial paralysis or disfigurement if the bite causes sufficient nerve damage.


According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, approximately 28,000 Americans underwent reconstructive surgery to repair damage caused by dog bites in 2014. Some bites result in only minor cuts and bruises, but other bites can cause serious disfigurement. A severe injury can result in a broken bone, damage to the tendons and nerves, and exposure of the underlying tissue.

Nerve Damage

The dog’s teeth can puncture or compress nerves, causing nerve damage, pain, tingling, and the possibility of paralysis. Some dog bites can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, which restricts arm movement because of sudden pressure on the wrist’s nerves.

Treatment for nerve damage typically involves rest and physical therapy. Some cases require costly surgery to repair the damaged nerves with grafting new nerves onto the existing ones and implanting specialized electrical stimulation devices to improve nerve function.

Broken Bones

Bones in the hands and fingers can be especially vulnerable to dog bites since canines with a powerful bite force can fracture even bigger bones. A 2009 study found that the skull shape and size affect the dog’s bite force. For instance, a brachycephalic or pushed-in appearance of the skull generally makes for a more dangerous dog in terms of its bite.

Dog Bite Prevention for Veterinary Technicians and Pet Groomers

While most bites are minor, some can cause serious injury. To help prevent bites, it is essential to be aware of a dog’s body language to signal aggression. If a dog is growling, baring its teeth, or stiffening its body, it is best to back away slowly and give the dog space. If a dog attacks you, try to remain calm and protect your face and neck. Once the dog is under control, seek medical attention immediately.

Since veterinary technicians and pet groomers need to be close to animals to perform their service, it is vital to protect vulnerable body parts. The neck and face should be kept clear of the dog’s immediate biting radius while restraining a potentially dangerous canine may be necessary.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

Knowing a few key steps ensures you safeguard your health and secure your right to recover compensation after the incident.

Seek Medical Care

It’s important to seek medical attention if you see redness, swelling, and pus around the wound. There’s still a risk of disease transmission since several diseases can be transmitted through dog bites, including rabies and tetanus.

When you notice these symptoms, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and go to the emergency room. They can give you antibiotics to prevent further infection in your injuries. Based on the examination of your wound, the emergency room doctor may decide whether stitches are necessary.

You can also take pictures of your wounds to show the severity of your injuries. Remember to save your doctor’s medical bills, laboratory test results, and diagnoses. These medical records can show the financial costs related to your injuries and help strengthen your case. They can also show the potential healthcare costs of treating your injuries.

File a Police Report

When you report the dog bite to the police, an officer investigates the attack and gathers information. They want to know the dog’s vaccination history, past attacks, and owner’s contact information. They also require your cooperation to create a record of the attack.

You should be ready to answer questions about what happened in the attack and the circumstances leading up to it. If there were other witnesses in the attack, such as your colleagues, you can ask if they are willing to share their experience regarding the specific dog’s aggressive behavior. You can give the officer their names and contact information so that they can interview them for the report.

Seek Legal Counsel

Finding an attorney with a medical background can ensure that every detail of your dog bite claim is covered. At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., senior partner Eileen Kroll has the legal knowledge and medical experience to pursue your claim effectively.

As a nurse attorney, Eileen can review your medical records to understand the financial expenses incurred from the medical treatment of your injuries. She can then use the photographs of your dog bite injuries, police report, and witness statements to prove your dog bite injuries against the owner so you can receive fair compensation.

What Elements Are Important in Proving a Dog Bite Claim?

Michigan law requires proving a dog bite claim with these three key elements to hold the dog owner liable.

  • You must demonstrate that the dog bit you and caused your injuries
  • Your actions did not provoke the dog in any way
  • The dog bite took place on either public or private property

Private property can include the dog owner’s private property. If you were lawfully on the owner’s property to groom or treat a dog and can prove the other elements in your claim, the dog owner can be liable for your injuries.

What is Michigan’s Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims?

In Michigan, the statute of limitations for bringing a claim against the dog owner is three years. You are barred from recovering damages if you do not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. You must act quickly and contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to ensure you can receive proper compensation.

What Compensation Can You Recover After a Dog Bite Injury?

You may be able to recover the compensation necessary for treating your injuries and getting back to a normal life. The compensation you can recover includes economic damages such as current and future medical expenses and lost wages due to time away from work.

You may also be entitled to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, and disfigurement.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help a Veterinary Technician or Pet Groomer

Veterinary technicians and pet groomers provide an important service to animal owners but also work in high-risk occupations. Obtaining compensation for your injuries in the case of a dog bite can be necessary for recovering from your injuries.

Review Potential Ways of Obtaining Compensation

Your attorney can review avenues of receiving a settlement for your injuries. Michigan’s workers’ compensation program covers veterinary technicians and pet groomers who sustain dog bite injuries. They must be working at the time of the dog bite attack to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If these criteria are met, the veterinary technician can receive benefits for medical expenses and lost wages.

You can find out from your attorney whether the dog owner has a homeowners’ insurance or renters’ insurance policy that covers dog bite injuries. It is possible to gain compensation for your injuries. The total compensation for dog bite claims exceeded $822 million in 2021. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement for medical costs and damages for pain and suffering.

Negotiate With Insurance Companies

Getting maximum compensation for your injuries requires your lawyer to negotiate with the insurance companies for you to receive compensation. They understand that insurance companies often try to minimize or deny your claim.

Your lawyer can underscore the extent of your injuries and how those injuries affected your quality of life. They can provide evidence, such as photos of your injuries and medical records, to prove your claim for a fair settlement.

Filing a Lawsuit

If neither side can agree to a settlement, your lawyer can offer the option of filing a lawsuit in court. They can help you navigate the legal process of going through the court system against the insurance company. In addition, an attorney can help ensure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.

Hands Of Asian Woman Is Checking For Fleas And Ticks In The Dog,

Get Legal Representation for a Dog Bite Claim

Your livelihood as a veterinary technician or a pet groomer may be put on hold as you deal with potentially debilitating injuries that require costly treatment. The attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. know how difficult it can be for a veterinary technician or pet groomer to suffer a dog bite, especially in a field they love.

We have a successful track record of helping victims of dog bites in Michigan, including $250,000 for a homemaker in Ann Arbor. Contact a member of our legal team for your complimentary consultation and learn how we can help you recover damages for your dog bite injuries.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.


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