Michigan’s Dog Bite Law places strict liability on pet owners for the actions of their animals. Generally, if a dog bites a human under any circumstances a court will find liability against the dog owner unless the victim was a trespasser on the owner’s property or was doing something outrageous to provoke the dog. An experienced attorney will be able to quantify and prove the damages associated with a dog bite by providing expert medical testimony regarding the extent of the injuries and any other pain and suffering resulting from the dog bite.Michigan Dog-Bite Statute
- 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.
- 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.
A father's son approached a dog who was chained to a fence. The father called to his son, who was two years old at the time, to stop. When his son did not, the father ran to stop him, but his son was bitten and mauled by the dog. The father brought an action and sought damages. The jury awarded the father damages for his son and found the father seventy five percent (75%) at fault. The Court did not reduce the award of damages because of the father's apparent negligence. The court held that fault, outside of the context of provocation, was not relevant in a dog-bite action. The statute provides for absolute liability absent provocation. The fault or negligence of a third person, in this case the father, was not relevant in this case. The appeals court upheld the award of one hundred percent (100%) of the damages even though they found the father to be seventy five percent (75%) at fault.