UNDERSTANDING “FAULT” IN A DOG BITE CASE
April 19, 2021
You were just minding your own business when, out of nowhere, a dog comes up and bites you. Or maybe this dog has a reputation as a neighborhood troublemaker, and you feared this day would come. Now that it has, what do you do?
You’re not alone. According to 2020 statistics from the Insurance Information Institute, Michigan residents filed 633 dog bite claims with their insurance companies, and Ohio residents filed 779 claims.
If you’ve been injured by a dog in Michigan or Ohio, you need the services of an experienced dog bite attorney. We have over 75 years of experience in personal injury law, including numerous dog bite cases. Contact us at Ronald S. Weiss, Attorney today to schedule a free consultation.
Dog Bite Liability in Michigan
Michigan is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, meaning that a dog doesn’t need a prior history of biting or aggression for the owner to be held liable for an injury caused by their dog.
There are a few exceptions to owner liability, however, including:
You were provoking the dog
You were trespassing on the owner’s property
You were legally on the property but were there to commit a crime or other unlawful activity
If you were bitten or attacked by a dog for any of the reasons listed above, the owner may not be liable for your injuries, and you might not be eligible to receive damages in a personal injury case against the dog’s owner. Most cases we hear about don't involve those narrow exceptions.
Michigan Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for pursuing a serious bodily injury claim for dog bites or attacks in Michigan is generally three years from the time the injury occurred, so taking action quickly is in your best interest. Many of the cases that we help involve minors (people under 18 years old). In the case of minors, there is a different statute of limitations.
Michigan Leash Laws
Dog owners are required to keep their dogs on leashes so they don’t “stray,” according to Michigan Compiled Laws § 287.262. This is important to keep in mind if you’ve been attacked by an off-leash or stray dog. Also, many cities, villages, and townships have their own leash laws.
Dog Bite Liability in Ohio
Like Michigan, Ohio is a strict liability state, meaning there’s no need to prove that the dog is dangerous or has bitten before.
Ohio has similar exceptions to owner liability, which include the following:
You were teasing/tormenting/abusing the dog
You were trespassing on the owner’s property
You were attempting to commit any crime other than a misdemeanor on the property or against a person
Again, if you performed any of the above actions, the dog’s owner may not be liable for any injuries you may have suffered.
Ohio Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for pursuing a serious bodily injury claim for dog bites or attacks in Ohio is only two years from the date the injury occurred, so you’ll want to file a serious injury claim as soon as possible. Further, many of our cases involve minors and there is a different statute of limitations when minors are bitten or attacked. Minors are individuals that are less than 18 years old.
Ohio Leash Laws
Interestingly, Ohio law does not require dogs to be on a leash when they’re off the owner’s premises unless they’re considered to be a “dangerous dog,” according to Ohio Revised Code § 955.22. All dogs must, however, be “under the reasonable control” of someone when off the owner’s property. Further, most cities, townships, and villages have their own leash laws.
While the law may seem confusing, you don’t have to go through this alone. Experienced attorneys can help you file a case against a dog owner whose dog has bitten or attacked you or your loved one. You certainly want to take the best steps to secure compensation for your injuries.
Reliable Dog Bite Attorneys in Michigan & Ohio
Being bitten or attacked by a dog is a scary experience, and it can be tough to figure out how to move forward with an injury claim against the dog’s owner. You’ll want to work with someone who has decades of experience in this specific area of the law to help you figure out the complex decisions regarding your claim and what it might (or might not) be worth.
We have over 75 years of combined experience and know-how to work with clients who have suffered serious dog bite injuries. We also understand the special circumstances involved when children are injured by dogs in Michigan or Ohio and will give you honest feedback about your case.
Contact us at Ronald S. Weiss, Attorney today for a free case evaluation.