While dogs are known as man’s best friend, their animal nature means unpredictable behavior. Unfortunately, even the most docile dog can unexpectedly bite a person. Dogs bite around 4.7 million Americans every year, equal to 1.8% of the U.S. population. Of these dog bite victims, 800,000 people, or one out of six, need medical attention for injuries after suffering a dog bite attack. Sadly, children are the victims in almost half of all dog-bite incidents, resulting in significant injuries.
A dog bite injury can range from minor to severe. Sometimes an injury can resolve with treatment, but in other cases, a dog bite can result in a more severe injury with long-lasting effects. The most common dog bite injuries are puncture wounds, facial injuries, eye injuries, broken bones, and torn scalps and ears. Dog bites can also pose a high risk of infection and cause long-term nerve damage or permanent scarring.
Dog bites can cause deep tears or lacerations in the skin, often penetrating past the epidermis and into the bones, blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. These injuries are usually marked with an uneven zigzag pattern making them harder to stitch up without massive scarring. Dog bites also cause excessive bleeding. Any dog bite, regardless of size, should be treated by a medical professional.
If a dog bites you more than once, it is then considered a dog attack. One bite warns you to keep away from the dog; more than one bite is intended to hurt you. The dog may also knock you down or scratch at you with its paws to cause further injury.
While any dog can bite, it’s important to be aware that several breeds are known to be more aggressive than others so that you can take precautions in their presence. These breeds include:
Approach any dog with caution, let them sniff your hand first to feel welcome, and don’t ever make sudden movements towards an unfamiliar dog. If the owner is present, ask them if their dog is friendly before approaching the animal. Don’t ever disturb a dog that’s eating, sleeping, or caring for its puppies.
Under the Michigan Dog Bite Statute (MCL 287.351), if the victim of a dog bite is (1) lawfully on the property, and (2) the victim did not provoke the dog, the owner of the dog can be liable for the first bite. The statute has three key points: (1) Knowing that the dog could be dangerous is irrelevant, (2) You must be on the property lawfully, and (3) The owner of the dog can only claim provocation as a defense.
If the dog bit you because you were provoking it, you may not have a valid legal claim to compensation. This doesn’t only refer to an act of intentional provocation. It can be the result of an accident, and not that you were intentionally trying to upset or anger the dog. If your action would have caused a regular dog to bite, it could be regarded as provocation under Michigan law, which would bar your claim.
Michigan Common Law:
Failure to use reasonable care in controlling their dog is key to establishing negligence in a dog bite case. If the dog bite occurred due to the owner’s inability to supervise the dog properly, put a leash on the dog, or warn of the dog’s dangerousness, they could be held liable for damages. It’s difficult to prove negligence in a dog bite case, which makes it all the more important to retain a dog bite lawyer to protect your rights and get you the settlement you deserve.
If a dog bite has injured you or a loved one, it’s essential to seek legal representation so that you can be compensated for any loss associated with your injury. A dog owner may be held responsible for reimbursing you for losses incurred from the attack, and bills, including medical or psychological health care bills, lost wages, mental anguish, or pain and suffering caused by the attack.
The laws in Michigan regarding dog bites are complex and can be confusing. That’s why you need the experienced personal injury attorneys at Goodman Acker to help you navigate the process of seeking compensation for your injuries and losses. In the case of serious injury from a bite, you deserve to have your expenses covered, especially if you have mounting medical bills or had to be out of work for any length of time due to your injuries. Let us fight for you while you focus on recovering and getting your life back to normal.
If a dog bite has injured you or someone you love, contact the team at Goodman Acker today. With over 150 years of combined experience, our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to get you the settlement you deserve. You can reach us by phone, chat, or via our convenient online contact form to get answers to any questions you may have.
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