Love them or not, dogs remain a favorite American pet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 36% of U.S. households have at least one canine family member. Unfortunately, these four-legged companions may also pose an injury risk to others; dog bite incidents affect over 4.5 million people a year, and almost one in five of those bitten requires some kind of medical treatment.

In addition to physical damage and bacterial infection, dog bite injuries may result in permanent nerve injury or the introduction of potentially deadly diseases, including rabies and tetanus. Even a relatively minor bite may lead to steep medical bills, loss of wages and emotional trauma.

Who is liable for dog bite damages in Michigan?

Some states have a “one free bite” rule. This basic rule states that if a dog is involved in an incident but has no previous history of aggression, the owner may not be liable for injuries to another party. By contrast, Michigan has strict liability laws that hold that, in most cases, pet owners are financially responsible for damages that their pet causes.

If a dog bites me, do I have to prove owner negligence?

Since Michigan law holds that owners are strictly liable for harm their dog causes, people who have been bitten do not need to prove that an owner was negligent or at fault. They must simply be able to show that the injury was the result of the dog, that they did not provoke the animal and that they were in a public place or lawfully on the owner’s private property as an invited guest or business/government representative (i.e., not trespassing).

Is it important to file a dog bite report?

Filing a report with the local animal control agency may be crucial for a variety of reasons. In addition to providing documentation for an insurance claim, doing so may help you to find vaccination information about the dog involved and potentially prevent future attacks by the same pet.