All dogs, even the seemingly sweetest and most well-trained, have the potential to bite. When they do, victims can suffer severe injuries and incur significant medical expenses. Under Michigan law, pet owners must take financial responsibility for dog bite injuries, but getting fair compensation can be challenging.
A Dearborn personal injury lawyer with Christensen Law can pursue your losses with a dog bite insurance claim or lawsuit. Our law firm is here to listen to you, protect your rights, and put over 30 years of legal experience behind getting economic justice for you or your loved one. Contact us today at 248-900-9000 or complete our online request form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Dog Owners Must Pay for Bite Injuries
Michigan Compiled Laws § 287.351 establishes strict liability for dog bites. According to the law, dog owners must pay for bite-related damages, regardless of the dog’s former viciousness or their knowledge of it. You do not have to prove that the owner acted negligently. You need only show that you suffered a bite injury while on public property or lawfully on private property, including the property of the dog’s owner.
Homeowners and renters insurance policies usually cover dog bites, including those that occur off-property. Our Dearborn dog bite lawyers will explore your claim options or take legal action to recover your losses. Compensation may include the following:
- Economic damages. Economic damages are your actual, out-of-pocket expenses. They include your current and future medical bills, personal property damages, and household expenses. You can also seek compensation for lost wages or earnings, lost employment benefits, and lost future earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are your intangible losses. In a dog bite injury case, they may include compensation for depression, anxiety, fear, permanent and disabling injuries, physical pain, mental distress, reduced quality of life, and loss of enjoyment.
- Wrongful death. If your loved one suffered a fatal bite injury, our wrongful death attorneys will pursue damages on behalf of their estate and family. Compensation may include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and the loss of your loved one’s services, income, future financial support, care, and companionship.
Our Dog Bite Attorneys Will Fight for Fair Compensation
Our team’s tenacity and dedication to clients sets Christensen Law apart. Our experienced attorneys and compassionate staff will take the time to listen to you so we can address your individual needs and find personalized legal solutions.
Because we want you to have the resources to get back on your feet, we will always prioritize securing financial justice over speedy, unsatisfactory resolutions. We handle every case as though bound for trial and will spare no resources when fighting for you.
Our dog bite lawyers serving Dearborn, MI, will do the following:
- Collect case evidence, including medical records, eyewitness testimony, and proof of your losses
- Prove financial responsibility for your damages, whether your case involves owner negligence or strict liability
- Complete and file dog bite insurance claims or prepare legal paperwork for a dog bite lawsuit
- Aggressively negotiate for full and fair compensation
- Review settlement offers, reject underpaid claims, and defend you from bad-faith insurance tactics
- Prepare your case for civil court and represent you at trial if necessary
Our approach has led to record-setting outcomes and multi-million dollar case results. Call us at 248-900-9000 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we will pursue maximum compensation for your damages.
What Is the Value of Your Claim?
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that Michigan is fifth in the nation for the number of dog bite property insurance claims and cost per average claim. In 2022, there were an estimated 905 claims with an average payout of $49,502.
Every case is different, and many factors will affect the compensation available to you, including the following:
- The victim’s age
- The severity of the injury and whether or not it results in permanent scarring or disability
- The victim’s current wages and whether or not they can work during their recovery
- The extent of the victim’s pain and suffering
- The dog owner’s insurance policy limits
Your actions during the attack may also influence your case. According to Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.2959, if you bear some degree of fault, your economic damages will be reduced by that percentage. If you are more than 50 percent liable, you cannot recover non-economic compensation.
Our legal team will not allow insurance agents or opposing counsel to shift responsibility for their client’s actions onto you. We will defend you against allegations that blame you for your injuries and pursue every cent owed to you by the at-fault party.
Liability for Other Dog-Related Injuries
Strict liability only applies to bites, not to other dog-related injuries. For example, say a dog chases you, causing you to fall and break your ankle. To recover compensation for damages, you will need to prove the owner acted negligently or show that the animal had a history of aggressive behavior.
Dearborn Dog Owner Responsibilities
According to the City of Dearborn, dog owners must obey the following rules to ensure the safety of their pets and other residents:
- License dogs over the age of 6 months with the City Clerk’s Office. Owners must have proof of a current rabies vaccination to obtain a license.
- Annually renew dog licenses. Licenses expire each year on Feb. 28.
- Leash dogs when not on private property. Dogs must also wear a collar or harness with a current dog license attached.
- Refrain from tethering dogs for longer than one hour at a time or longer than three hours per day.
Failure to adhere to the above regulations could constitute negligence in a dog injury case. Our lawyers can help you build a negligence-based claim.
How Serious Are Dog Bite Injuries?
According to a journal article in the American Family Physician, around 800,000 people receive treatment for dog bite injuries annually. In addition, every year, more than a dozen victims (most commonly children) suffer a fatal bite.
Dog bites can cause the following complications:
- Severe infections
- Broken or crushed bones
- Joint and ligament injuries
- Nerve damage
- Scarring and disfigurement
Dog Bite Treatment
If a dog bites you, you should clean the wound, apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage the injury. You should see a doctor immediately if the bite is deep, you have torn or broken skin, you notice signs of infection, you have excessive bleeding, or there are concerns about whether or not the dog was up to date on its vaccinations.
Depending on your injury, you may require the following treatments:
- Rabies or tetanus shots
- Prescription antibiotics or intravenous antibiotic treatments
- Medical procedures
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Plastic surgery
Report Your Dog Bite to Authorities
In addition to seeking treatment, you should report your dog attack to Dearborn Animal Control via the Dearborn Police Department at (313) 943-2001.
The agency’s officers can create a record of your incident for your claim and help you locate the dog’s owner if necessary. Officers may also be able to provide important information about the animal, like whether or not it is up to date on its vaccinations.
Other Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury
Aside from seeing a doctor and reporting your bite, there are a few other steps you should take to protect your dog injury claim, including the following:
- Follow your physician’s orders and attend all future medical appointments.
- Keep a record of your medical treatment, bills, and other bite-related costs.
- Do not post about your injury or dog bite case on social media.
- If an insurance agent or opposing attorney contacts you, do not provide details about the attack, your injury, or your medical treatment. Do not accept an initial settlement offer. Instead, refer them to our Dearborn dog bite attorneys. We can field their questions and begin the negotiation process.
Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
You do not have unlimited time to pursue dog bite compensation. According to Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5805, you have three years to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan. If you do not act within the statute of limitations, the court will likely refuse your case, even if you have solid proof of liability.
The statute will also affect your insurance claims. While you can attempt to negotiate a settlement after the deadline expires, your bargaining power will be greatly reduced. Our law firm can help you get started before it is too late.
Contact Christensen Law About Your Dog Bite Case
If you or your loved one suffered an injury in a dog attack, our legal team is here to protect your rights and secure your financial future. We will fight for maximum compensation for your personal injury while supporting you through every step of your case.
To learn more about how we can represent you, contact us at 248-900-9000 or fill out our online request to schedule a free consultation. We take cases on contingency, so cost is never an obstacle to seeking justice. We only collect attorney fees if and when we win compensation. Connect with our Dearborn dog bite lawyers today.