Definitive Guide to Michigan Dog Bite Lawsuits For Children
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Dog bites can cause shockingly serious injuries, even from smaller dogs. While most dogs are gentle and non-aggressive, even well-behaved dogs can become dangerous under enough stress.
If your child has been bitten by a dog, your family may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Michigan is a strict liability state, meaning that owners may be held responsible in dog bite cases even if their dog has never acted aggressively before.
You need an experienced dog bite lawyer to walk you through your options. Even if the owner of the dog is a family friend who intends to pay for the injuries, you may still need to file a lawsuit to get the appropriate amount of compensation.
When Should You File a Lawsuit?
It’s common for the owner of the dog to try to make amends with the dog bite victim, especially if the owner is a friendly neighbor or even an extended family member. The victim’s family is often optimistic that the dispute can be remedied without court intervention.
In reality, parents should prepare to file a lawsuit, even if it looks like the dog owner may attempt to pay for the injuries themselves. In many cases, medical bills will exceed what the owner can afford, and the only remedy will be to file a claim with their homeowners’ insurance.
It’s wise for parents to keep copies of medical documentation, photos of injuries, and other records of the events. You should even file a police report at the time of the incident, just to cover all possibilities and have as many records as possible. Even if the dog owner is a friend, you need to protect yourself and your child.
The statute of limitations on dog bite and attack cases is only three years, so you can’t wait too long. If there’s any question of whether the owner will pay before the deadline, you need to contact a law firm as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Location and Severity of Injuries
Children are resilient and heal well, but they are also smaller than adults. A dog bite can do even more damage to a child than to an adult. Even a brief bite can crush extremities like fingers and toes, sending a child to the emergency room.
Lacerations, broken bones, bruising, and soft tissue damage are all common results of a dog bite. Dog bites to the head and neck can even cause blindness or death if they are severe or sustained.
In severe cases, children may have to endure multiple rounds of surgery, including plastic surgery if needed to restore facial features and functions. Areas such as the eyes and mouth can be especially difficult to repair fully.
In addition to general infections caused by bacteria in the wound, dogs can transmit rabies. Although rabies is uncommon in dogs in the United States, dogs may still get it if they are not vaccinated in accordance with Michigan law. Your child may need a rabies shot after a dog bite if the dog’s vaccination records cannot be located.
Factors Influencing Your Case
The location of the dog attack may have a significant effect on the outcome of your case. A dog owner can generally be held liable for a dog bite injury that occurs on public property or on your own property, regardless of whether or not the dog was leashed.
Dog owners can only be held liable for dog attacks on their own property if the victim was there legally. If your child accidentally trespassed on a neighbor’s property and was bitten as a result, you may be unable to sue the owner. In some cases, you may need to prove your child’s location at the time of the attack in order to win your case.
The dog owner or their insurance company may also try to claim that your child provoked the dog. You may have to prove your child’s actions leading up to the bite by calling on witnesses or other sources of evidence, like photos or video. A Michigan dog bite attorney will be able to assist you with strategies for winning your claim.
Dog bite claims cover medical expenses at a minimum, but even this can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in compensation. Although some of this compensation will go to your health insurance provider if applicable, the rest can be used to reimburse you for deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.
In Michigan, you can also sue for pain and suffering that is directly caused by the dog bite. This can include damages for any missed social events, trauma, and other social and emotional harm caused to your child.
Overall, a severe dog bite case that causes extensive injuries can end up costing the dog owner thousands of dollars. This will often be covered by homeowners’ insurance or another source. Even if the dog owner is a family friend, you need to explore your legal options if the dog bite is potentially going to damage your family’s financial future.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Your best option for seeking justice is to enlist the help of a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bite injuries. Liability laws in personal injury cases can vary depending on the type and location of the injury, so getting a different type of lawyer who doesn’t specialize in dog bites can actually reduce your chances of winning.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we pride ourselves on having both expertise and a caring demeanor. We understand that you have an obligation to protect your family, and we’re here for you as you and your child go through this difficult time.
We specialize in medical and personal injury cases, and even have a former nurse, Eileen Kroll, as a senior attorney at our firm. Our specialized knowledge of dog bite cases can help you get the compensation you need to keep your family’s future on track. Contact us today at 866-MICH-LAW today so we can get to work for you.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.