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What Happens if a Dog Bites Someone on Your Property?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

In Michigan, there are strict laws surrounding dog bites, which means that dog bite incidents are often legally tricky situations. What if your dog bites someone while they’re on your property? What if someone else’s dog bites someone on your property? Enlist the help of a dog bite lawyer or top personal injury at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. today and avoid getting caught off-guard in a legal scramble. In the meantime, however, here are some of Michigan’s laws surrounding dog bites.

Michigan’s law on dog bites

Michigan is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means that, in most circumstances, the dog owner is responsible if their dog were to bite someone else. There is some nuance to this, however, and perhaps it’s useful to have a look at the law, word for word:

(1) If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

(2) A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner’s property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner’s property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act.

For a dog owner to be responsible for the dog biting someone else, the person bitten must have been:

  • Legally wherever they were
  • Behaving legally and with lawful intent
  • Not antagonizing or provoking the dog

Remember, these are all guidelines, and in instances of dog bites, it’s always a good idea to seek the help of a dog bite lawyer or a top personal injury attorney at our law firm. Even if your dog bit someone else and it’s your fault, you don’t want to be sued, and you don’t want to be legally taken advantage of.

Someone else’s dog, your property

What if someone else’s dog is on your property, and then they bite someone? How does this factor into premise liability?

According to the dog bite statute, the owner is still responsible for the behavior of their dog. If they take their dog to another person’s private property, out to a park, or on a walk in their neighborhood, their responsibility for their dog doesn’t just disappear. Equally, Michigan also boasts strict leash and dog control laws. In general, according to Michigan law, if a dog strays, it’s the owner’s fault.

This is because it is legally the dog owner’s responsibility to make sure their dog is either on private property or a leash. There are some exceptions to the leash law in instances of working dogs, but the general rule of thumb is that unless the bitten person was doing something illegal or malevolent, the dog owner is responsible for a dog bite.

Thus, in general, if someone else’s dog bites another person on your property, it’s not your fault. However, it would still be useful to contact a medical attorney or dog bite lawyer at our law firm to know what to do in case the person bitten attempts a lawsuit.

Your dog, your property

Given the information thus far, this is where the responsibility could land more on your shoulders. If they were an invited guest and did nothing to provoke the dog, even if the dog was never previously vicious, then you are responsible. However, there are three ways in which you would be legally removed from responsibility for the dog bite:

  • If the person, the dog bit had trespassed on your property
  • If the person were an invited guest who then attempted to perform an illegal action (such as thievery) when on your property
  • If the person who was bitten had also provoked or aggravated the dog.

Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for further guidance

Liability issues are serious and potentially life-altering. Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for a free case evaluation and consultation. Call any time of day, toll-free at 866-MICH-LAW. Our law firm never charges a fee unless a recovery is made.

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.

Tim is a writer and editor who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Maryland and calls Washington, D.C., home after spending most of his adult life in the country's capital. Although Tim spent most of his post-college years in the restaurant industry, he became interested in writing about legal matters after he recently moved to Colombia. Today, Tim writes professionally about medical malpractice, drug policies, and workplace injuries. Tim is focused on curating his freelancing career and plans to work remotely for as long he can.



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