Dogs are a beloved part of many families, but it can be traumatic for the victims when they attack. Dog bites are frightening, but they can also cause serious injuries and complications, such as bleeding, infection, and even death. Many dog bite victims require hospitalization and long-term medical care, which can be difficult to afford, especially if you are too hurt to return to work.
If a dog bit you or your child through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injury-related expenses from the dog's owner. The Michigan dog bite lawyers at Michigan Injury Lawyers understand dog bite laws. We'll fight to help you get the money you deserve. Call 313-GET-HELP or fill out a free initial consultation form.
Dog Bite Statistics
Dog bite statistics in the U.S. are startling. Approximately 4.5 million dog bites happen each year in the U.S. Nearly 20 percent of those bites become infected. Every day, nearly 1,000 people receive emergency medical treatment for non-fatal dog bites and dog attacks. About 12,400 people are hospitalized each year due to dog bite injuries, and an estimated 30 to 50 of those dog bites result in death.
Dog bite victims and their families face mounting medical bills. The average cost per hospitalization due to a dog bite injury is $18,200—about 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospitalization. Because dog bites can be so dangerous, victims suffer upwards of $2 billion in monetary losses annually.
In 2021 alone, dog owners paid $882 million in dog bite liability claims to compensate victims of dog bites—a substantial increase over previous years due to increased medical costs and increases in settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to dog bite victims.
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a Michigan dog bite attack, you need an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
If you or a loved one are a dog bite victim in Michigan, our dog bite lawyers recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself and improve your chances of holding the dog owner accountable for your injuries.
- Wash the dog bite injury for at least five to 10 minutes using mild soap and warm water.
- Slow any bleeding by placing a clean cloth over the wound.
- Apply over-the-counter antibiotic cream to the wound if you have any available.
- Wrap the wound in a sterile bandage.
- Get the dog bite wound checked out by a medical doctor.
- Take photographs of your dog bite injuries as soon after the dog attack as possible to document your injuries.
- Change the bandaging regularly.
- Watch for signs of infection. See your doctor immediately if you experience redness, swelling, increased pain, or fever.
- Notify your local animal control agency or police department and report the dog bite incident.
- Contact a Michigan dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your dog bite case and whether you may have a claim against the dog owner.
Common Injuries Sustained by a Dog Bite Victim
The most common dog bite injuries seen by our Michigan dog bite lawyers include:
- Skin punctures
- Deep bruising
- Broken bones
- Nerve damages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
The Six Levels of Dog Bites
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers follows the Dunbar Bite Scale to categorize the severity of dog bites into six levels:
Level 1 Dog Bites
The least severe level of dog attacks, a Level 1 incident involves the dog demonstrating aggressive behavior by showing his teeth and growling. The dog may nip at the victim and catch their clothing in its teeth, but the dog's teeth never come in contact with the victim's skin.
Level 2 Dog Bites
These incidents involve the dog demonstrating aggressive behavior and biting at the victim. The dog's mouth comes in contact with the victim's skin and may leave a mark. But, the dog's teeth do not break the skin. Most dog bites fall into the Level 1 or 2 categories.
Level 3 Dog Bites
A Level 3 dog bite is when a single dog bite results in one to four punctures with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog's canine teeth.
Level 4 Dog Bites
When a single dog bite causes at least one puncture wound that's deeper than half the length of the dog's canine teeth, it's considered a Level 4 dog bite. These dog bite injuries often cause deep bruising around the wound or lacerations if the dog shakes its head from side to side while biting down on the victim.
Level 5 Dog Bites
Level 5 dog bites are extremely dangerous and mutilating. These dog attacks cause at least two Level 4 dog bites.
Level 6 Dog Bites
Level 6 dog bites result in a victim's death. Dogs who commit Level 5 or 6 dog bite injuries are considered dangerous.
Do I have a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
If you or a family member suffered injuries from a dog bite, you might have grounds to file a lawsuit. Under Michigan's strict liability law, the dog owner is liable if their dog attacks or bites another person under the following circumstances:
- The attack occurred while the victim was on public property or on private property lawfully, including the dog owner's property.
- The person bitten did not provoke the dog.
Dog bite claims are generally made against the dog owner's insurance company. In 2021, dog owners paid $882 million in dog bite liability claims to compensate victims of dog bites for their injuries.
Homeowners' and renters' insurance policies generally have limits on how much they will pay for dog bite damages. If your damages exceed this amount, you may be able to hold the owner personally liable for the difference.
Some dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers, are known to be more aggressive and more likely to attack people, and, as such, some insurance companies ban certain dog breeds. So, if a breed of dog known for its aggressive nature bites you or a family member, there is a chance the dog owner's liability insurance will not cover the claim.
To file a dog bite lawsuit, you will first need to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner or another party. The four elements of negligence are:
- The dog owner owed a legal duty of care to the victim, such as ensuring their dog doesn't injure others in predictable ways.
- The dog owner breached their duty of care, such as not keeping their dog on a leash while walking or failing to restrain a dog when visitors arrive at the home.
- The dog attack caused your injuries.
- And, due to the injuries, you suffered damages, such as medical bills and mental anguish.
Under some circumstances, another party may be held responsible for a dog attack, such as a landlord or property owner, if they knew a dog on their property was dangerous but failed to take action to keep others safe.
An experienced dog bite attorney can determine if negligence on the part of the dog's owner or another party contributed to your dog bite attack injuries and should be held responsible for your damages.
Michigan Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
A dog bite victim or their family member has three years from the date of the attack to file a dog bite lawsuit. However, there are some exceptions to this deadline. Dog bite victims under 18 at the time of the dog bite attack have until they reach their 19th birthday to file a dog bite claim. If you miss this deadline, you will miss out on your opportunity to seek compensation for your dog bite injuries.
It takes time to gather enough compelling evidence to file a lawsuit. So you should contact an experienced Michigan dog bite attorney as soon as possible to ensure you don't miss this important deadline.
Compensation for Dog Bites
Dog bite victims may receive compensation for damages, such as:
- Medical bills, including mediation, treatments, surgeries, physical therapy, and other medical expenses.
- Lost wages if you miss work due to your injury.
- Property damages.
- Psychological injuries and emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress syndrome
- Pain and suffering.
- Physical impairment.
- Loss of companionship.
How Can a Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer Help Me?
At Michigan Injury Lawyers, our dog bite attorneys have experience handling dog bite cases throughout Michigan, and we know what evidence to collect to build strong claims against negligent owners, such as:
- documentation of ownership,
- eyewitness testimonies of the attack,
- reports of previous bites or aggressive behavior,
- vaccination records,
- and more.
Contact us now to discuss your dog bite case before time runs out.
Contact Our Team of Michigan Dog Bite Lawyers
Don't let your dog bite injury cloud your future with uncertainty when it comes to your physical health and finances. Our Michigan Injury Lawyers and their team of Michigan personal injury lawyers can review the circumstances surrounding your dog bite attack to see if you qualify for compensation.
Our dog bite lawyers care about your well-being, and we want to help you move forward with your life. Our legal team will give your dog bite claim the attention and dedication it deserves and fight for the best dog bite settlement offer for you and your family. Contact us today at 313-GET-HELP.