Dog Bite Law

Michigan recognizes three potential causes of action arising out of a dog bite:  statutory, common law strict liability, and common law negligence.

The Michigan dog bite statute creates liability for the owners of dogs which bite people.  Pursuant to the statute, the plaintiff only needs to demonstrate that (1) the dog bit the plaintiff, (2) the bite was without provocation, (3) the defendant owned the dog at the time of the dog bite, and (4) the plaintiff was lawfully at the location where the dog bite occurred.  See MCL 287.351.

Common law strict liability can be alleged against the keeper of the dog which bites someone, and not just the dog's owner.  See MCL 287.288, Trager v. Thor, 445 Mich. 95, 516 N.W.2d 69 (1994), Veal v. Spencer, 53 Mich. App. 560, 220 N.W.2d 158 (1974), Klimek v. Drzewiecki, 135 Mich. App. 115, 352 N.W.2d 361 (1984).

Common law negligence can be alleged without regard to whether the owner, keeper, or possessor of the dog had knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities if that person was negligent in failing to prevent foreseeable harm and negligence resulted in the dog.

Although the damages which can be awarded due to a dog bite is dictated by many factors unique to each case, the nationwide average dog bite case in 2017 was $37,051.00.

If your dog has bitten someone or you were injured by a dog, you should immediately and privately consult with a lawyer.