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What to Expect in a Michigan Dog Bite Settlement

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

After being attacked by a dog, you may face significant medical bills, a lengthy recovery period, and uncertainty over how to proceed with a dog bite claim. Our dog bite attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can discuss the circumstances of your claim and your legal options in a free consultation.

Average Dog Bite Settlements

The average dog bite settlement amount nationwide was $39,017 in 2018. In 1994, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported an estimated 4.7 million dog bites. Approximately 799,900 victims required medical attention, and about 6,000 people were hospitalized. The largest segment of the population bitten by dogs were children between the ages of 6-9.

In 2018, there were about 760 dog bites in Michigan, costing homeowners and insurance companies about $35,000 per claim and a total payout of over $27 million. This ranked Michigan 7th in the nation for the states with the most dog bites.

Types of Dog Bite Lawsuit Settlements

The dog bite laws in Michigan state that a dog owner is liable for a dog bite when the person who is bitten can prove that:

  • The injury was caused by a bite
  • The person bitten did not provoke the dog or put the animal in a fearful
  • position
  • The person was in a public place or on private property with the permission of the owner

Under Michigan law, dog bite claims are treated as either a strict liability where the owner is liable or they can also be treated as a claim of negligence by the owner. In both cases, the owner is responsible for the dog’s behavior, and if the dog happens to be in the care of a relative or friend, the owner is still liable.

Strict Liability

In Michigan, pet owners are held liable the first time their canine companion bites someone. Under the strict liability provision, the owner cannot claim they were unaware that their dog might bite someone.


In the case of a dog incident causing injury without a bite, negligence can also be claimed, with the owner being liable. Michigan’s leash law has been on the books for over a hundred years, and negligence claims can be brought against the owner if this law is ignored.

Other injuries that can occur to victims are instances where the dog, usually a large dog, has the freedom to run at the victim and jump up, pushing the victim to the ground and causing injuries. Dogs that run loose, find a way out of their enclosed kennel or yard, and ultimately end up hurting someone can lead to a negligence case against the owner.

In addition to the owner of the dog being held liable, the owner of the land and/or the landlord can also be held accountable. If a dog is housed in an apartment complex and chases after a ball thrown by a child in the yard, any injury to the child by the dog can result in a claim for personal injuries.

Injury to Another Dog or Another Animal

Often, a dog may get loose and fight with another dog or animal, resulting in serious injuries or the death of the innocent animal. The owner of the attacking dog is liable for the injuries to the dog, but usually, the amount of compensation is limited to the Fair Market Value of the injured animal.

The courts will take into consideration the pedigree of the animal, the purchase price of the animal, the special uses of the animal, whether the dog was pregnant, and the general health of the animal.

Focus Dog Bite Wound And Blood On Hand. Infection And Rabies Con

How is a Dog Bite Settlement Determined?

The circumstances of every dog bite claim are different, so there is no formula for calculating a dog bite settlement. The amount of compensation is determined by several factors, including:

  • Circumstances of the dog attack
  • Injuries suffered by the victim, their location, and whether they are permanent
  • Gender and age of the victim
  • Victim’s medical treatment, including future treatments
  • Amount of medical bills and lost wages incurred by the victim
  • Pet owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage

Negotiating with an insurance company without the assistance of a dog bite attorney can be challenging, and they may try to get the victim to settle for less than their case is worth. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you maximize your settlement.

If you have sustained injuries in a dog attack, take the following steps to help protect your rights and get the compensation you are owed:

Collect Information

All the information you collect about the dog attack should be in writing, whether you are the dog bite victim or a friend or relative—exchanging information with the owner or the dog’s handler is necessary. Names, addresses, telephone numbers, and the name of the owner’s insurance carrier should be documented and written down.

Witnesses are also key to ensuring that any claim you make will be considered legitimate. Try to get a written statement from anyone who saw what happened, who may have assisted you in protecting yourself, or who provided first aid. The incident should also be reported to animal control to ensure the safety of others.

Document the Bite

If you are a victim or assisting a victim, take time to record and evaluate the injuries and pay particular attention to the amount of pain suffered, lack of mobility, or an inability to physically complete tasks that you usually could have done.
This documentation can include photos, journals, written notes, or videos taken by witnesses. Try to keep, in writing, as many notes as possible that deal directly with the wound and the ongoing status of the wound. Doctor’s reports, hospital records, and copies of medications and medical bills should all be kept on file.

Contact an Attorney

The more serious the dog bite or, the more serious the injury because of negligence, the more the victim should reach out to get the advice and guidance of a dog bite lawyer.
Your dog bite attorney will have the ability to accurately estimate the amount of compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and claims for pain and suffering. They also know how to negotiate a dog bite settlement, so you receive fair compensation for your dog bite injury.

Time Statutes

There is a limit, in Michigan, to the amount of time a victim has to file a claim against an owner if they are either bitten or there is a case for negligence. The person filing the claim must do so within three years of the date of the incident, and if the person is under 18, the victim has until their 19th birthday to file the claim.

How Long Do Michigan Dog Bite Cases Take?

There is no timetable for resolving a dog bite claim. In many cases, your dog bite personal injury attorney will wait to see if a scar will heal or be permanent since this affects your settlement payout.

Minor dog bite settlements, like surface puncture wounds, require very little medical treatment. As long as your lawyer has all the information they need to send the insurance adjuster a demand letter, your claim can be settled within a matter of weeks.

Who Pays the Settlement Amount?

In most dog bite claims, the settlement is paid by the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. If a dog owned by a business bit you, then their general liability insurance pays the claim.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowner’s insurance coverage includes liability for any injuries caused by household pets. Renter’s insurance provides similar benefits. So if you are bitten at a relative or friend’s home, their insurance covers your settlement in your dog bite case.

Contact a Lawyer

A dog bite can result in lasting psychological damage as well as serious physical injury. Call our law firm immediately if a dog has bitten you or a loved one. Our experienced dog bite attorneys will fight to get you the settlement you and your family deserve.
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.

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.

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.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.



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