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What to Do if a Friend’s Dog Bites You

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Most pet owners can train their dog to avoid biting or other violent incidents. However, even dogs that are mild-mannered may bite or act aggressively if they are startled or perceive a genuine threat.

If you’re visiting a friend’s house or socializing in public, you could find yourself unexpectedly bitten by their dog. No matter how much you trust your friend to make things right by paying your medical bills, there are some basic best practices for protecting yourself. Here are the basic steps to take if a friend’s dog bites you.

Seek Medical Attention

Dogs have shockingly powerful jaws, and the strongest dog breeds can cause much more than just minor bleeding and bruising. If bleeding is severe or you are concerned that the dog may have broken a bone, go to the emergency room immediately. This is especially true for children who are bitten by dogs.

If the bite didn’t cause severe bleeding, then you may be able to just go to urgent care and have it checked out there. However, you should always seek professional medical care to get your injuries properly documented. Failure to do so can make it harder to win your case if you need to sue for more serious long-term injuries that aren’t immediately evident at the time of the attack.

Dog bite injuries are a serious risk for infection. This is especially true of dog bites to the hands and fingers, so it’s important to get the wound examined and cleaned properly.

Document Everything

Keep a copy of your medical records from the incident, as well as any homeowners’ insurance information your friend gives you. You may also want to save screenshots of any text conversations before or after the incident. This documentation can be important if you have to file an insurance claim or if your friend decides to stop cooperating with your requests for them to pay for medical bills.

Failure to keep records of the incident may make it more difficult to win a claim or lawsuit in the future. Plus, since dog bite cases are limited to a three-year statute of limitations in Michigan, you won’t be able to waste time trying to track down evidence later if needed.

File a Police Report

Even if you trust your friend to do the right thing and pay for your injuries, a police report can help create a formal written record of the facts of the case. The police will collect statements from both sides and talk to any witnesses you can track down. This can help significantly if you need to file a claim with the owner’s property insurance later.

The police report does not have to be filed immediately, but sooner is always better. Make sure you and everyone around you is safe first, and focus on getting medical care. In emergencies with severe injuries, calling 911 is always the safest option.

You can let your friend know that you’re filing a police report, and make sure they understand that it’s just a formality and not an attempt to press criminal charges. However, don’t let them talk you out of filing it. A police report not only helps protect you if you need to file a claim or lawsuit, but it could also help protect other people later if local animal control authorities need to investigate a pattern of violent behavior from the dog.

Get Legal Help

If the attack happened on your friend’s property, it will likely be covered by their homeowner’s insurance. If it happened on public property, your friend may have to pay for your injuries.

Either way, you may need to get help from a dog bite attorney. Insurance companies may try to blame you for the dog attack by asserting that you provoked the dog, or that your documentation is insufficient for a claim.

You need the help of a law firm that understands Michigan dog bite laws thoroughly, and can protect your right to compensation. Law firms that don’t have detailed knowledge of dog bite cases might not be able to investigate and present your claim properly.

Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has the legal team you need to maximize your chances of winning your insurance claim. Our team knows the ins and outs of dog owners’ rights and your own rights as a dog bite victim. Contact us today at 866-MICH-LAW for a no-obligation consultation so we can get you the compensation you deserve.

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.

Hannah Johnson has her Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs with a specialization in civic engagement. Her career has focused on labor-related research, including unions, workers' compensation, and contract law. She is now broadening her career to include research and policy analysis in East Asia, specifically in countries like South Korea and Japan where the aging population is creating a new frontier in economic trends and public policy innovation.



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