Last year, State Farm released a list of the top ten states for dog bite claims. According to their publication, despite Michigan’s attempts to prevent animal attacks, dog bite claims actually increased more than 15 percent over the last year. Fortunately, those whose animals injure another person are legally liable for any damages suffered by the victim. Unlike some states, this is true even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and the owner had no idea that the animal was dangerous. Unfortunately, it can still be difficult to file a claim against the responsible party, especially when severe injuries are involved, so if you were bitten by a dog, you should consider speaking with an experienced Grand Blanc dog bite attorney who will aggressively defend your interests, whether in settlement negotiations or in the courtroom.
When it comes to dog bites, there are three theories of liability under which victims can collect damages from the at-fault party. The first involves bringing a claim under the state’s strict liability statute, which means that the injured party will not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent. Essentially, a defendant will be strictly liable for a victim’s injuries if:
If these elements are satisfied, the dog’s owner will automatically be liable for damages, which may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The only defense in this type of case is provocation, which requires a defendant to establish that the victim took definitive action to incite or anger the animal. Furthermore, the defense will only apply if the dog’s actions could be considered proportional to the victim’s actions.
Victims who do not file claims under the strict liability statute have the option of either filing a claim under common law strict liability, which requires victims to prove that the dog’s owner and prior knowledge of the animal’s dangerous propensities, or under the standard theory of negligence.
Whatever route an injured party decides to take, he or she must file a claim within three years from the date of the incident. Those who fail to meet this deadline risk having their case permanently barred by the court. However, there are certain exceptions for cases involving minors, making it especially important for those who have been the victim of a dog bite to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the attack.
If you or a loved one were recently attacked by a dog or another animal that belonged to someone else, please contact us at Nickola Law by calling 810-767-5420 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and compassionate dog bite lawyer who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.
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