I WAS BITTEN BY A NEIGHBOR’S DOG. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Not only is there pain involved after a dog bite, but feelings of fear and anxiety may continue to plague someone for a long time afterward, as might pain and suffering.
Dog bites are not that uncommon, either. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 4.5 million dog bite incidents annually. This means you have a 1-in-73 chance of suffering a dog bite.
Our team at Ronald S. Weiss, Attorney, handles cases throughout Michigan and Ohio. We know the relevant laws and we handle many dog attack cases each year. Attorneys Ron and Gerald Weiss can help you seek the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses and other losses due to the incident.
Dog Bite Laws in Ohio and Michigan
Both Ohio and Michigan are “strict liability” states when it comes to dog bites. Strict liability means you do not have to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner or handler to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Under strict liability, the dog owner is liable unless the victim was trespassing on their property or somehow provoked the dog into the attack. Guests, workers, even solicitors on one’s property are not considered trespassers and are fully covered under the laws of both states.
Some states also have “first bite” or “one bite” provisions that generally preclude legal or claims action against a dog owner if it is the first time the dog has bitten someone. Thankfully, neither Ohio nor Michigan imposes the first-bite exemption.
Ohio and Michigan both also have leash laws in effect, which means that anyone walking a dog must have the dog on a leash. Some exceptions generally exist in both states for dogs used for hunting or agricultural purposes.
Premises Liability and Recovering Damages
Under the legal concept of premises liability, anyone legally on your property is subject to your “duty of care,” meaning you have to warn them of any dangerous conditions or section off areas where they may be subject to injury. Thus, keeping a dog away from guests, workers, and others (except illegal trespassers) is an essential component of care.
However, under the strict liability dog bite laws in both Michigan and Ohio, if someone legally on your property suffers a dog bite, you are generally liable even if you warned them.
The victim can then seek compensation from your homeowners’ or renters’ property insurance policy. Homeowners’ policies generally also extend protections beyond the property boundaries when it comes to dog incidents.
What to Do If You Suffer a Dog Bite
Much like an auto accident, you need to exchange information and obtain the name, address, contact information, along with the insurance company name and policy number of the dog owner.
If there are witnesses, get their statements and contact information. You should take cell phone photos at the scene, including your injuries, locale, and participants. In short, document everything!
Then, you should seek medical attention even if the bite seems minor. It is very important that your injuries be properly evaluated by a medically trained person. You will need medical documentation, including expenses, to include in your claim and or lawsuit.
In both Michigan and Ohio, you are required to report the incident to local authorities. Check with your state requirements. The emergency room will generally initiate a dog bite report with the local animal control or dog warden.
After you’ve taken the steps to protect your health, contact an attorney to help handle the claims and other actions needed to recover from your injuries.
Hiring an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney
Insurance companies will typically take whatever steps they can to limit the amount of a payout. As such, you want to have an experienced and aggressive attorney on your side.
You don’t want to deal with a claims adjuster on your own. Let our experienced dog bite attorneys handle all your negotiations and take matters to the next level if warranted. Call us immediately at Ronald S. Weiss, Attorney. We are located in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, and we handle cases throughout both states.