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5 Facts You Need to Know about Dog Attacks

Dog attacks affect approximately 4.5 million people per year—that's the equivalent of over 12,000 attacks per day. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, that can be physically painful, mentally scarring, and financially draining. In most cases, you can hold the dog's owner liable for your injuries. Here's what you need to know.


1. Dog Owners Are Liable on Private and Public Property

If a dog attacks you on either public or private property, the owner can be held liable, as long as you had a legal right to be on the property. In regard to public property, you almost always have a right to be there. For private property, you have a right to be there if you were invited or legally obligated to be there for your job. For example, delivery people dropping off a package have a legal right to be on private property, as do certain utility workers.
Note that you don't have to be on the owner's property. You and the dog's owner could both be guests on a third party's property. Alternatively, you could be on your own property when a neighbor's dog runs over and attacks. In both cases, the dog's owner is liable.

2. Prior Offenses Are Not Necessary

Even if this is the first time the dog has attacked, the owner is still liable. Under Michigan law, the dog does not have to show any previous signs of viciousness. As a result, the owner cannot use the dog's usual temperament as a defense in these types of cases.

3. Owners Only Have Two Defenses

In fact, when it comes to attacks, owners only have two possible defenses. The owner's attorneys could argue that you provoked the dog, or they could argue that you were on the property illegally. Generally, the latter only applies to trespassers or individuals who were on the property expressly to commit a crime. Unfortunately, if you were attacked whilst trying to break into a home, you may not be able to hold the owner liable for your injuries.

4. Owners May Be Liable For Injuries Other Than Attacks

Under the strict liability cases described above, owners are liable if their dogs attack you. However, owners may also be liable in cases where you got an injury related to their negligence concerning their dog. For instance, if you were jogging in a park and a loose dog accidentally knocked you over, you may be able to hold the owner liable based on negligence.
In a case like this, your attorney needs to prove that the owner was negligent. In particular, the attorney needs to argue that the owner failed to exercise due caution and that the owner should have had the dog on a leash or under control so that it did not knock you over.
Under Michigan state law, all dogs must be on a leash when they are not on their owner's properties, and if a female dog is in heat, she is not allowed to leave the owner's property.

5. Dog Attacks Can Be Expensive

The aftermath of a dog attack can be extremely expensive. The victim may need medical attention including reconstructive surgery in some cases. The victim may also lose time at work or incur additional expenses around the home for childcare, cleaning, or other duties that he or she can no longer do as a result of the attack.
Luckily, it is possible to get compensation. If you have been attacked by a dog in Michigan, contact us today. At Andreopoulos & Hill PLLC, we specialize in personal injury cases, and we don't take a fee unless you win the case.