About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. Over half of dog-bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to the victim (friends or relatives). If you are bitten by a dog in Michigan you are entitled to damages—even if the dog has not bitten anyone before. People who own dogs or other animals that injure others are legally responsible for the damages caused by their pets.
When it’s a Friend or Family Member’s Dog:
You may feel guilt or worry about filing an insurance claim against a family member or friend. However, almost always the owners of these animals have homeowners or other liability insurance that will pay for the injuries and damages caused by their dogs and other pets.
What is the Average Payment for a Dog Bite Claim?
The average amount paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $44,760 in 2019 up from $39,017 in 2018. The average cost per claim nationally has risen 134 percent from 2003 to 2019, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upwards.
Michigan Law Regarding Dog Owners’ Liability:
If you are bitten by a dog in Michigan you are entitled to damages—even if the dog has not bitten anyone before. This is according to Michigan State Law, LIABILITY OF OWNER FOR DOG BITE Act 73 of 1939 Section 287.351. The law states:
(1) If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
(2) A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner’s property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner’s property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act.
How Common are Dog Bites in Michigan?
In 2019, Michigan ranked 8th for dog bites in the United States. There were 740 claims at an average cost of $42,833 per claim. In total there were 17,802 dog bite claims in 2019 in the United States
What to Do After a Dog Bite:
Seek medical attention if you have not done so already. Traumatic events can make remembering details difficult so it is important to document the injury including:
- Photos of the dog bite
- Name of the dog’s owner
- The location where the dog bite took place
- The date and approximate time of the dog bite
- Notes on the dog bite itself (location, number of stitches, etc.)
- Doctor visits and medical expenses
- Lost wages (while healing or from doctor visits)
If you have any questions or concerns, especially regarding Michigan dog bite laws, don’t hesitate to contact us at (231) 722-2444.
Nolan & Shafer Case Study
2020 Dog Bite/Attack of Child in Muskegon County
A child was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. The child was playing at the neighbor’s house when the dog attacked causing severe damage to the child’s face. Fortunately, no long-term disfigurement. Settlement of almost a quarter of a million dollars.