Dogs are not always man’s best friend. Whether they have attacked an adult or a small child, pets can cause serious injury. Like people, each dog has their own individual personality. Some may be more aggressive than others and more likely to attack.
Some dog bites can cause serious injury. If you or your child have suffered an injury from a dog, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. First, you should contact an experienced Detroit dog bite attorney for legal representation.
The attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers deliver results for our clients. We regularly obtain six and seven-figure settlements for our clients’ injuries and losses. People trust us because they know that we stand up for them when it matters most. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We can evaluate your legal rights and options at no cost.
- Common Dog Bite Injuries
- Millions of Dog Bites Happen Each Year
- How Michigan Dog Bite Law May Favor You
- Strict Liability Is Not Always the End of Your Case
- How Could Dog Bite Defenses Complicate Your Case?
- The Negligence Standard Applies When Injuries Are Not from a Bite
- How to Get Compensation for a Dog Bite Case
- Potential Compensation for Your Dog Bite Injuries
- How We Determine Your Dog Bite Injury Compensation
- We Negotiate for Full Dog Bite Compensation
- Why Do You Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Injury Claim?
- Contact a Detroit Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Here are some common injuries that people may suffer from dog bites:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Nerve damage
- Permanent scarring
- Eye injuries
- Facial injuries
Some serious dog bite injuries can require numerous surgical procedures. For example, you may need reconstructive surgery because the dog bite injuries are severe. Infections may take hold the days after the dog bite, potentially requiring hospitalization. Your medical costs can escalate in a hurry.
Millions of Dog Bites Happen Each Year
Dog bites can happen regardless of what you do. It is hard to predict how a dog may act when they get stressed or scared. Pets do not reach like humans and can have extreme reactions for no reason.
Every year, roughly 4.5 million people report dog bites. In other words, one out of every 20 dogs in the country will bite someone in a given year. Often, the dog bite victim is a small child. Dogs are territorial animals and may react aggressively when they think someone on their eye level is encroaching on their turf. In addition, children are more likely to have serious injuries from dog bites because they often happen on their heads, faces, or neck.
How Michigan Dog Bite Law May Favor You
Although there is very little good news when you have suffered an injury from someone else’s dog, the Michigan dog bite law is one thing that is working in your favor. Some states require you to prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious tendencies and did nothing to keep you safe. Michigan is not one of those states. Dog owners had “one free bite” in the past, but the legislature changed the statute to hold dog owners to a higher standard and make it easier for dog bite victims to recover financially.
In Michigan, the law allows you to receive financial compensation so long as two things apply:
- You were legally allowed to be on the property where you were bitten (in other words, you were not a trespasser)
- You did not do anything to provoke the dog
This legal principle is known as strict liability. If the dog bite occurred, the owner will be strictly liable for damages, no matter what they actually or should have known. The mere fact that the incident happened is enough for the owner to be liable. When owning a pet, the animal should not bite someone else. You should not have to bear the costs when someone else has chosen to keep a pet that is either vicious or reacts irrationally.
Strict Liability Is Not Always the End of Your Case
However, strict liability is not the same thing as an automatic liability. While you do not have to prove negligence with a strict liability claim, it means the burden shifts to the other party to prove why they should not have a legal obligation to pay you. The dog owner can still present one or more defenses to avoid strict liability for your injuries and losses.
The most common defensive argument from a dog owner is that you provoked the dog. Provocation is one of Michigan’s few defenses to strict liability for dog bites. The classic example of provocation is doing something to intentionally anger the dog. However, you may have also provoked the dog unintentionally. The owner can even argue provocation if you unintentionally stepped on the dog’s paw.
Still, the most common way to assert the provocation defense is to argue that you approached the dog and did something like poking or prodding it. You can touch or pet a dog, which will not be considered a provocation.
How Could Dog Bite Defenses Complicate Your Case?
The insurance company may try to blame a child for their injuries, claiming that they did not know how to approach a dog properly. Provocation depends on the facts and circumstances of the situation. For example, it can be a provocation if the child steps on the dog’s tail or pokes it with a stick. Nonetheless, a provocation does not license the dog for a brutal attack. If the child gently prods the dog, but the animal viciously and relentlessly attacks, the owner can still be liable.
Another possible defense is that the dog bite victim was trespassing at the time of the bite. Trespassers have no legal authority to be on the property, so a dog owner is not liable if a trespasser suffers injuries.
A key note is that delivery persons are not legally trespassers on a property. If you worked for a service like Amazon and a dog bit you while making a delivery, the owner can still be liable. The law specifically references the laws of the United States Postal Service when discussing whether someone was a trespasser.
You need a skilled dog bite attorney from Michigan Injury Lawyers ready to challenge any defenses a dog owner presents against your claim.
The Negligence Standard Applies When Injuries Are Not from a Bite
Strict liability does not apply to every single injury from a dog attack. Michigan law specifically discusses dog bites. If you suffered an injury from an attack that did not involve a bite (such as hurting your back when trying to elude a dog or a coronary event from the panic), the negligence standard will still apply to your injuries. Then, you may need to prove that the dog owner did not take adequate actions to keep you safe in the face of known risks from the dog.
How to Get Compensation for a Dog Bite Case
Like any personal injury case, you will have two potential options to obtain compensation for your injuries:
- You can file a claim with the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy (this policy covers damages caused by pets)
- You can file a lawsuit against a dog owner in court
A dog bite lawyer from Michigan Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the best path for your claim.
Potential Compensation for Your Dog Bite Injuries
Many people ask us how much their dog bite case may be worth. While we wish we can give you a straight answer, this is impossible without having our legal team evaluate the circumstances of your dog bite.
Some cases may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Others are not worth that much, but receiving compensation for any amount of damages is still critical. Whether you had one emergency room visit for a professional wound cleaning and stitches, or you needed time in the hospital and multiple surgeries, you deserve compensation for your losses from the liable dog owner.
If you needed medical care or incurred other losses for your dog bite injuries, you should seek a legal evaluation from Michigan Injury Lawyers. Never assume your injuries are too minor or severe for our firm to review your rights.
How We Determine Your Dog Bite Injury Compensation
The truth is that your dog bite injury compensation depends entirely on you and your situation. For instance, if you are filing a dog bite claim on behalf of a child, the compensation can be higher, given the lifelong effects of the injury. The same thing goes if you have any extenuating circumstances that can make your injuries worse.
Here are some elements of your dog bite injury compensation:
- The cost of your medical care, including any follow-up procedures or reconstructive surgery
- Lost income for time that you miss from work
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional trauma and distress
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
We can demonstrate your medical bills, lost income, and other financial losses with statements and receipts. However, insurance companies regularly undervalue intangible damages from dog bites, as you cannot prove emotional and physical pain and suffering with direct documentation.
If you develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an irrational and debilitating fear of dogs following your bite, our attorneys know how to value such losses and prove them to an insurer. We know how to seek fair compensation for physical pain from injuries, suffering due to disfigurement, and other non-economic losses.
We Negotiate for Full Dog Bite Compensation
Your compensation for these elements depends on how the bite affected you personally. For example, you can receive more money if the dog bite leaves a scar in a prominent place. Your claim can be worth more if you suffer from severe anxiety due to the bite. Thus, children may receive higher dog bite compensation because they can suffer from severe lifelong emotional distress any time they are around a dog.
If you file a claim with the insurance company, you will need to negotiate compensation before you can receive a check. Unless there were allegations of a provocation, the insurance company’s first response might be to make you a settlement offer. The initial settlement offer is only the start of the negotiation process. As much as insurance companies try to present themselves as fair and user-friendly, it is just a facade to get you to trust them. Companies like State Farm are out for their financial interests and profits.
Working with your attorney, you can reject settlement offers that do not fairly compensate you for your injuries. You can counter with your offer and continue to negotiate until you get what you deserve. If the insurance company does not make you a reasonable offer, you can always opt for a lawsuit.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Injury Claim?
Even though proving liability may not be as challenging as in other personal injury cases, you should still hire a lawyer for your Michigan dog bite case.
Here are some reasons why you need an experienced dog bite lawyer on your side:
- One of the essential pieces of information you can have in any dog bite case is the value of your claim. On your own, you can be far off in estimating the value of your claim, or you may even make the mistake of trusting the insurance company.
- The insurance company may try to blame you for the attack as their only way of avoiding liability.
- If you need to threaten a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve, you only gain credibility when you have a lawyer who can file a sound lawsuit on your behalf.
At Michigan Injury Lawyers, we work hard to maximize your financial compensation. We work hand in hand with our clients to get you every dollar that you deserve.
Contact a Detroit Dog Bite Lawyer Today
You can begin the legal process by contacting us to schedule your free initial consultation. Then, you can decide whether we are the right lawyer for you. We are confident you will learn that our attorneys mean business and bring our full legal firepower to bear on your behalf. To speak with an attorney, you can message us online or call us today at (888) 454-0801. You owe us nothing unless we can help you win your case. Then, we will be paid directly from the proceeds of your settlement or jury award.