In Michigan, if a dog bites a person without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on public 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. This is regardless of the former viciousness of the animal.
The statute says a person is lawfully on private property of the owner of the dog if the person is on the owners property in performance of a duty imposed upon him by any state law or US postal regulation or if the person is an invited guest, customer or client of the person lawfully in possession of the property. Damages are not available to a person committing a criminal act.
The owner of a dog that has dangerous tendencies or a propensity to attack is held strictly liable for the harm it caused to others under Michigan common law. Also, there can be an issue of provocation. Insurance companies will defend cases and claim that an injured party did some act which provoked the animal. This also opens the door to arguments about comparative fault or negligence.
A negligence claim at common law is available without regard to whether the owner, keeper or possessor had knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities if that person was in fact negligent in failing to prevent foreseeable harm and their negligence resulted in an injury. Furthermore, if the Defendant knew of dangerous propensities, that knowledge goes to the degree of care required.
In other words, if the dog was in the custody a temporary caretaker (possessor), as opposed to an owner or keeper, proof of the possessor’s negligent handling of the animal under the circumstances is required. For instance, the dog is allowed to roam unsupervised on the premises with multiple strangers. The temporary caretaker will be found liable under a theory of common law negligence.
Learn How Attorney’s Evaluate Damage
The Law Offices of Gerald R Stahl has represented numerous dog bite victims in Western Michigan since 1982. If you have been bitten by a dog in Michigan, call the personal injury lawyer Gerald R. Stahl for a free consultation.
Whether you live in Allegan, Kent, Ottawa or Barry County, Gerald R Stahl will get you the best recovery for your dog bite injury and does not charge an attorney fee unless you recover money damages for your injuries. Gerald R Stahl is conveniently located in Grand Rapids near Knapp’s Corner and the 63rd District Court.