Dog tugging on man's sweater

Proving Your Dog Bite Claim

Ronald S. Weiss, Attorney Sept. 6, 2023

A dog bite can result in significant physical, psychological, and emotional trauma to victims. In the aftermath of the incident, the injured victim can recover damages by filing a claim for compensation. However, not everyone understands what it actually takes to prove a dog bite claim.  

Ron and Gerald Weiss have more than 80 years of combined legal experience helping dog bite victims throughout Michigan and Ohio. While we are located in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, we handle dog bite cases throughout both states. We understand the long-lasting effects of a dog bite injury and are committed to helping you recover fair and full compensation.   

Dog Bite Laws & Liability in Michigan and Ohio

While both Michigan and Ohio impose statutory strict liability for dog bites, the states have slightly different laws affecting the dog owner’s liability. In Michigan, dog owners are held liable for all bite-related injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether or not their pets have had a history of viciousness or previous bites.  

Thus, even if it is the first time the dog bites someone, the owner is still liable for the resulting injuries and damages. The strict liability rule applies if the following criteria are met: 

  • The injured victim did not provoke the dog; and 

  • The injured victim was lawfully on the property where the incident occurred.  

However, Michigan’s strict liability rule does not apply to dog attacks where there was no bite. For example, if a dog jumped on you and knocked you down, you cannot use the above-mentioned law to hold the owner strictly liable for your resulting injuries. However, you may still be able to obtain compensation by proving the owner’s negligence (e.g., failure to control their dog). 

In Ohio, the strict liability rule applies not only to dog bites but also to other injuries caused by dogs. Under the law, owners, keepers, and harborers of dogs are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets if the following is true: 

  • The injury was the result of the dog’s behavior;  

  • The victim was not committing or attempting to commit criminal trespass or other criminal offenses (with the exclusion of minor misdemeanors) at the time of the incident; and 

  • The dog was not tormented, provoked, teased, or abused by the victim.  

If a dog jumps on a person and knocks him/her down, the victim can still hold the dog owner strictly liable for the resulting injuries. There is no need to prove the dog owner’s negligence to obtain compensation.  

Elements of a Dog Bite Claim in Michigan & Ohio

When seeking compensation after a dog bite incident in Michigan or Ohio, the victim must prove the following five elements to secure a successful claim:  

  1. The dog caused their injuries;  

  1. The incident occurred in a place the victim was lawfully allowed to be (in other words, the victim was not trespassing);  

  1. The victim did not tease, provoke, abuse, or torment the dog;  

  1. The victim is bringing a claim against the owner of the dog; and 

  1. The victim suffered actual damages as a result of the incident (e.g., medical bills, disfigurement, etc.).  

If the above-mentioned elements are not met, the injured victim may not be able to secure compensation. You might want to contact a skilled attorney to get assistance in proving your dog bite claim and establishing these five elements.  

Preserving Evidence to Support Your Claim

In most cases, the victim’s ability to prove liability in a dog bite claim hinges on the availability of evidence in their case. For this reason, it is important to preserve all available evidence to support a dog bite claim by taking the following steps: 

  • Taking pictures of the scene of the incident, the injuries, and the torn/bloody clothing. 

  • Preserving torn/bloody clothing and other relevant physical evidence. 

  • Keeping medical records related to the incident. 

  • Identifying and collecting witness testimonies. 

  • Keeping a journal to describe the pain and the impact of the injuries on the victim’s self-esteem, quality of life, ability to work, ability to care for themselves, and ability to enjoy their life. 

Consider working with a skilled personal injury attorney to get help in gathering and preserving all available evidence to strengthen your dog bite claim.  

Work With an Experienced Attorney on Your Dog Bite Claim

Ron and Gerald Weiss know what it takes to prove your dog bite claim and successfully win your case. At Ronald S. Weiss, Attorney, we understand that dog bite incidents can be traumatic experiences, which is why we fight hard to help our clients get the justice they deserve. We represent people who have been injured by dog bites throughout the states of Michigan and Ohio. Give us a call today to get the support of an experienced attorney.