WHO PAYS FOR MEDICAL BILLS AFTER A DOG BITE?
June 8, 2022
Not all dogs are friendly. Although a well-trained dog should never attack or bite, it’s important to remember that dogs are instinctual animals that can lash out without warning when they are startled or feel threatened. Regardless of breed or size, the vast majority of dog owners believe their animal is perfectly safe and would never attack. The unfortunate reality is that all dogs have the potential to bite. Experiencing a dog bite is a traumatic experience. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation.
Along with the mental and emotional impact a dog bite can have on a person, recovering from a dog attack can require extensive medical care that can lead to a large amount of unpaid medical debt. No person should have to experience financial loss because another dog owner could not control their animal. Attorneys Ron and Gerald Weiss understand the toll that a dog bite can have on your life, and we are ready to advocate on your behalf. Reach out to our dog bite attorneys to set up a consultation.
Michigan’s Dog Bite Law
Michigan law is very specific about who is liable in a dog attack case. Unlike many states that allow a “first bite” before an owner can be held legally responsible for an attack, Michigan law applies “strict liability” when a dog bites another person. Strict liability holds the negligent owner liable for damages regardless of whether this is the first time they have demonstrated aggressive behavior if:
The victim did not provoke or antagonize the dog,
The attack took place on public property, or
The attack took place on private property and the victim had a lawful right to be there.
In addition to strict liability, Michigan enforces the Dangerous Dog Law to help ensure responsible pet ownership and the safety of others. Dogs labeled as “vicious” or “dangerous” have a prior history of biting, attacking, or causing physical injury or death to another person.
If a dog has bitten you or a family member, your first step after seeking medical treatment is to report the attack to your local municipality and animal control. If a dog labeled as "dangerous," caused your injury, then the owner may face criminal charges and the amount of compensation you receive can significantly increase.
Who Pays For Medical Bills?
In Michigan, the homeowners' insurance of the dog owner typically pays for the dog bite claim. However, some dog owners will avoid responsibility altogether or try to deny their dog was at fault. Often, a reasonable starting point is to allow your health insurance company to cover medical expenses. In doing so, you minimize medical debt or the chances that bills slip into collections.
As soon as you are well enought to consult with us, we can help you pursue a claim against the negligent party to ensure you are made whole for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Remember, even if you and the owner agree on how medical expenses will be paid, the chances that you will end up getting what you deserve is slim. Always contact a personal injury attorney when considering filing a claim.
Proving negligence is the cornerstone of nearly every dog bite claim. As it relates to dog bites, Michigan residents have the benefit of strict liability, so proof of the bite or attack is typically enough assuming it caused injuries. There are several ways to prove negligence, some of those methods include:
Photos or videos of the attack and the injuries - Ring recordings often help;
Violation of animal control and leash law;
Prior history of aggressive behavior.
Because every incident is unique, there may be other forms of evidence that may be used to determine negligence. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer ensures that every angle is covered and all evidence is used to tip the compensation scales in your favor.
An Experienced Michigan & Ohio Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
Dog bites do not happen by accident. If a dog has attacked you or a loved one, then we can likely help. Every dog owner has the responsibility to control their animal and ensure the safety of others. When owners fail to demonstrate this responsibility, they may be liable for damages.
Even the smallest bite can have a lasting impact. Don’t risk your chance to get the compensation you deserve by making personal agreements or navigating a claim alone. Partner with an attorney that will hold the negligent party responsible and aggressively fight on your behalf.
Attorneys Ron and Gerald Weiss take dog bite claims seriously. We can ensure you get the quality care and legal advice you deserve. We are located in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, and we handle cases throughout both states. To discuss your situation, get in touch with us as soon as possible.