Dog playing with dog toy

First Steps To Take After a Dog Bite

Ronald S. Weiss June 4, 2021

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, nearly 5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. Many of those wounds require emergency treatment, surgery, or hospitalization. Additionally, these attacks often cause emotional trauma.

If a dog has bitten you or someone you love in either Ohio or Michigan, you may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, therapy costs, and any additional pain and suffering. Since we are licensed in Michigan and Ohio, the scope of this post is limited to those states.  The first step is understanding dog bite law in either state by talking to an experienced personal injury attorney about your potential claim for damages.

For decades, attorneys Ron and Gerald Weiss have represented dog bite victims in Michigan and Ohio. We have offices in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio to serve our personal injury clients, and we are passionate about seeking maximum compensation for their damages.  We use our knowledge and experience to protect your rights.  

Dog Bite Laws in Ohio and Michigan

Dog owners in both states are responsible for the harm that their dog caused, even if the dog had never bitten anyone or had a history of aggression. The dog does not need to be categorized as a dangerous breed.

Ohio Dog Bite Laws

Ohio has a strict liability law that indicates that the owner or keeper of a dog is liable for any injury his or her dog caused from a bite, so long as the victim was not trespassing or attempting to commit a crime other than a misdemeanor and was not “teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.” There is generally a two-year statute of limitations in Ohio for dog bite claims. This means you have two years from the date of the bite to resolve a liability claim or to file a civil suit in court.  The statute of limitations is more complicated for injuries to minors and it is critical that you contact an attorney that knows the law and can protect your rights.  We know the law and we apply it to the fact of your situation.

Michigan Dog Bite Laws

Michigan’s strict liability dog bite statute states that the owner of a dog that bites someone is liable so long as the victim did not provoke the dog and had a legal right to be on the property where the incident occurred. Michigan generally has a three-year statute of limitations for dog bite claims. This means you will have three years from the date of the bite to resolve a liability claim or to file a civil suit in court.  There is a different law that applies to cases with minors and it is important to consult with an attorney that understands these issues.  

What To Do Following a Dog Bite

There are 4 key steps you should take after sustaining a dog bite that will help you pursue a personal injury claim:

  1. Exchange Information - Obtain the name, address, and phone number of the dog owner and information about the dog’s veterinarian and vaccine history. You should also obtain the name and contact information of any witnesses to the event.

  2. Seek Medical Attention - Some dog bites may appear to be minor, but they can be deadly if not treated. Dog bites can carry serious infections, including rabies. You should have a doctor examine the bite and treat it as needed. Your injuries may require stitches, surgery, or hospitalization. The healthcare provider will also report the incident to law enforcement as required by law.

  3. Document the Incident Collect Any Evidence - Take photos of the bites prior to and following medical treatment, as well as throughout the healing process. You should also write down your account of what happened while it is fresh in your mind and continue documenting information such as your pain levels, problems with mobility or function of affected areas, etc. Document any mental health problems you may experience, such as nightmares or panic when you are subsequently around other dogs. Keep a record of all expenses you incur as a result of your injuries and obtain copies of medical and mental health reports documented by physicians and nurses, as well as any lab or radiology reports.

  4. Hire an Attorney - An experienced personal injury attorney will help you document your injuries, interview any witnesses, obtain law enforcement reports and investigate the incident, the dog, and its owner.

Hire an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney Today

Pursuing a personal injury claim resulting from a dog bite can be complicated. The owner may attempt to claim that you provoked the animal or that you were trespassing or committing a crime when bitten. It will be vital to document witness testimony and other evidence that proves you have the right to file a claim for damages.

There is also the challenge of determining whether the liable party, such as the dog owner, property owner, or manager carries any premises liability insurance through which you can pursue a claim. You will benefit from having an attorney experienced with searching for any available coverage or other means of recovery.

Our personal injury attorneys, Ron and Gerald Weiss, know what it takes to document a dog bite claim and will stand up to any dog owners and their insurance companies. We have been successfully representing dog bite victims throughout Ohio and Michigan for years — and we would be proud to represent you as well.

If a dog has injured you or someone you know, don’t face this challenge on your own. Call our office in West Bloomfield, Michigan, or Toledo, Ohio today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.  We pride ourselves on the personal time and attention that we provide to our clients.  Time is of the essence so, call now!