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What Is Michigan Dog Bite Law And Statute of Limitations?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite injury, you may be able to recover damages from the owner of the dog if you can prove liability.

What Is The Law?

Michigan has had a strict liability dog bite statute (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. sec. 287.351) and it’s been the law since 1939. The statute says that a dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury if the injured party can prove three things:

  • That their injury was caused by a particular dog
  • That the injured party did not provoke the dog
  • That the incident happened in a public place — or the injured party was lawfully on private property (i.e. a delivery person) when the injury occurred

The Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations — or the deadline by which you must file a lawsuit, or relinquish your right to do so — is three years from the date of the dog bite injury. If the victim is a minor at the time of the injury, an exception could be made. Michigan law makes the provision that if anyone under 18 is injured by a dog bite, they have until their 19 birthday to file a claim.

How Do You Prove Liability?

Did the dog attack you? Was the dog known to be a dangerous animal? Proving liability in a dog bite case is more difficult than you think, even when you think negligence is obvious. In filing a claim or pursuing possible legal action, there are several important things that dog bite victims should do in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

  • Seek medical attention. Never refuse medical treatment from a paramedic or police officer on the scene. If you don’t receive an initial medical evaluation at the scene or at a nearby hospital emergency room, seek treatment from your doctor or go to a walk-in Urgent Care center as soon as you can.
    Even if stitches aren’t necessary, disease and infection can result if wounds aren’t treated properly.
    The legal reasons for getting medical attention is that this also serves as proof that the dog bite happened. Tell everyone who treats you about the incident, and how it happened. Describe the dog and the owner to the people who treat you, so they can attest to that information later. This creates the legal link — between the dog bite and medical treatment — that you need in litigation.
  • Contact Animal Control. Report the dog bite to the local animal control authority. In Michigan, animal control authorities are mostly county-based. Some municipalities and cities, like Detroit, have their own. You probably won’t need to do this because if you are treated by a doctor, Michigan law requires health professionals to report it. The local animal control office has the authority to have the animal/dog tested for rabies, which is also an important precaution for your health, as well as the community.
  • Obtain the owner and witness information. At the very least, don’t leave the scene without the name and address and other contact information for the dog’s owner, and the name of their homeowner’s insurance company. If the dog owner rents, try to get the same information about the landlord, too.
    If there are any witnesses to the incident, record those names and numbers as well.

Find Legal Help

A dog bite lawyer or personal injury attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you understand the dog bite liability rules and regulations in Michigan — or anywhere in the United States — and how insurance companies, judges, and juries respond to dog bite claims.

When a dog bites a person, sometimes the victim hesitates to bring any kind of legal action because they don’t want to cause financial hardship for the dog’s owner. In most cases, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company is the one who pays when a claim is filed.

An attorney can help you understand your options, and also help you calculate damages, including your medical bills, lost wages, and all hard costs associated with your dog bite injury, as well as damages for the trauma, pain, and other ways that the dog bite has negatively impacted your life.

Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is a law firm that helps individuals and families in Michigan recover damages for injuries caused by the negligence of another, including dog bite claims. An attorney will be happy to meet with you to learn more about your situation and case. After this free consultation, if we decide to work together, it will be a contingency fee agreement. This means that we don’t get paid until we achieve a settlement for you.

Let us know how we can help. Contact us today toll-free (24 hours) at 1-866-MICH-LAW or use our convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation by phone, in-person, video conference, or email.

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.

Mark is a freelance writer living near Concord, New Hampshire. He works with a range of businesses and professional associations in their strategic messaging and content development projects. He also provides content development services to nonprofits and government agencies, helping them distill complex topics and make information more accessible across multiple platforms. When he's not writing, he enjoys working outside and finds mowing his fields on a warm sunny day to be a peak experience.



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