Physical pain is only the starting point when an animal attacks. Deformity, a fear of rabies or other disease, and even long-term fear of the type of animal that caused the injuries can ensue. A pet owner may be liable for such injuries when his or her animal bites or otherwise attacks another, meaning that he or she must compensate the injured party for the resulting damages.
Although animal-attack claims most commonly involve dog bites, many other types of domesticated animals, such as ferrets, cats and even birds, can also bite humans, causing injury and potential liability for their masters. Even non-domesticated animals, such as large cats ordinarily found in the wild, can attack children and adults. Nunley Wheelock, P.C., has experienced lawyers in dog bite and the personal injuries associated with this field of law. Our firm will provide the best sources for accurate advice and information in animal attack cases.
Persons injured by biting or attack animals should see the counsel of skilled personal injury lawyers in order to understand the complexities of their case and obtain guidance through the legal system toward the most favorable outcome.
If you or someone you know has suffered from personal injuries as a result of an animal attack, an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer from Nunley Wheelock, P.C., can advise you on whether you may have a claim against the pet owner and can help you receive the maximum damages recoverable under the applicable law.
Michigan Dog Bites Overview
The most recent studies of dog bite injuries in the United States revealed that approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually. Of these, approximately 800,000 people require medical attention. Each year 1.8% of the U.S. population is bitten by a dog and 0.3% of the U.S. population seeks medical care as a result of an attack. Tragically, almost half of all dog bite victims are children.
A dog bite can be a traumatic event resulting in serious injury. Multiple deaths are reported each year as a result of the most vicious attacks. Often a bite will result in permanent scarring, nerve damage and a significant risk of infection. Many times there is psychological harm that lasts well beyond the physical injury.
Michigan Dog Bite Law Basics
Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute is considered a Strict Liability Statute. In Michigan, the dog owner is responsible for any damage caused by an attack from their dog. Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute (MCL 287.351) states in relevant part:
“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.”
Elements of a Michigan Dog Bite Claim
The two key elements to prove in a Michigan dog bite claim are:
1. That the Defendant was the owner of the dog in question, and
2. That a bite occurred.
Ownership can usually be established by licensing and vaccination records, as well as by the testimony of witnesses. The physical evidence of the dog’s bite allows for the second element to be established.
Many people believe that “every dog is allowed one bite”. This is simply not true under Michigan dog bite law. The Michigan dog bite laws are clear that prior behavior of a dog will not exonerate the owner from responsibility.
One of the frequently asserted defenses by the insurance companies and allowed under the statute concerns issues of provocation. It is common for an insurance company to assert that the victim, usually a child in some manner “provoked” the dog and is actually responsible for a resulting bite. However, this assertion is almost always incorrect from a factually basis. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, then it is strongly recommended that you contact our office immediately.
Michigan Statute of Limitations
The Michigan Dog Bite Statute allows action to be taken against a dog owner for a period of up to three years from the date of the incident. It is advisable to seek immediate legal consultation if you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite in Michigan.
Value of a Michigan Dog Bite Case
Determining the value of a dog bite claim as with all personal injuries is a complicated matter; however, because in most instances children are involved the valuation process is that much more difficult. Before an attorney can engage in serious negotiations regarding settlement, the degree of permanent damage needs to be ascertained first. There often is a need to wait to determine the extent of any permanent scarring.
What to do if I am bitten by a dog?
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, do not panic.
Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water. If you are in immediate medical distress, call an ambulance or go to the emergency room immediately.
Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency.
Contact our office to determine your legal rights as a dog bite victim.
Why you need a lawyer :
Professional Evaluation of Your Claim.
Handling a dog bite claim is a intricate process, even in light of Michigan’s statute providing for strict liability in these matters. It will take an attorney considerable time and resources to completely gather all of the documentation, make a determination, and file the appropriate claim on you or your child’s behalf.
Once an experienced attorney from our firm has gathered the necessary data, and determined the extent of the injury, he or she will know both the best way to proceed and the range of value the claim possesses.
Protect Your Child.
Children are often asked to provide statements to insurance companies; we strongly recommend that before any statement is given you consult an attorney. Often an innocent statement can be mischaracterized and turned into the insurance company’s defense.
Put a Strong Advocate in Your Corner
Making any legal claim is a substantial undertaking. It is always the case that insurance companies will forcefully fight against paying damages to an injured victim. Our firm is there to represent your interests in these proceedings, to counsel you as you undergo a long and sometimes draining process. We will do everything possible to ensure the best possible result for your family, and our office never charges an attorney fee if we are not successful in obtaining recovery on your behalf.
Most of our current clients were referred to our office by satisfied clients who we assisted in the past. Other attorneys have referred friends and family members to our office, confident that their claim would be handled by an extraordinary team of professionals. If our office makes a claim on an injured individual’s behalf, the insurance companies know that they are faced with a matter to be taken seriously.
However, the most important component of our firm is our commitment to you, our clients. Obtaining the largest settlement possible on your behalf is our goal. We understand the serious nature of the injuries sustained by our clients. We are 100% committed to helping our clients through the difficult times that they face. Every client is important to our office, and with every case we want to fight to achieve the best possible result.