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A Dog Bite Checklist to Understand Your Potential Liability

If you have been bitten by a dog in Michigan, the owner, keeper, or harborer of the pet could be liable for the injuries you sustain. Based on state law, it doesn’t matter whether the dog’s owner acted in negligence or not. All you must do is prove that the attack resulted in an injury or some other type of physical damage.

Who Exactly is Liable?

We all have busy lives so there may be others that are taking out dog for a walk. With mobile apps like Rover and Wag!, pets can be looked after by third parties. This is why it is so important to understand the three types of parties that could be held liable after a dog attack:

  1. Owner

This is the person that holds full responsibility for the dog. They feed and take care of the dog daily. They are also responsible for keeping up with the dog’s health and wellbeing. This comes into play when taking dogs into public places (city parks, events, etc.) with ordinances stating a dog must have certain vaccine records. For example, if there is an event that allows people to bring their dog, the owner is held liable if the dog spreads a disease that could have been prevented from up-to-date vaccination. Plus, if a dog without proper veterinarian care attacks another person, the animal could transmit disease to a human. This could also hold the dog’s owner liable.

  1. Keeper

This is someone watching the pet temporarily, such as a friend, neighbor or someone looking to make some extra money as a dog walker. For example, if an owner hires a pet sitter while out of town, the keeper could be held liable for the owner’s dog attacking someone. Keepers could also be the dog’s regular walker or a friend of the owner. As a keeper, they hold full responsibility while in control of the animal.

  1. Harborer

This is the person that controls the dog’s home. In some cases, it could be a family member of the owner. For instance, a college student is a home for the summer with their dog. When leaving the house, the student’s parents agree to take care of the dog while their child is gone. If the dog attacks, the parents would hold liability.

Dog Bites Happen More Frequently Than You Might Think

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are over 4.5 million dog bites every year in the U.S. In a 2018 report released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 27,000 people received surgery as a result of a dog attack. They happen quite often and are one of the more common types of personal injuries that clients contact the attorneys at Bashore Green about.

Are There Exceptions to Liability?

Yes, though rare, there are situations when an owner, keeper, or harborer are not held liable for a dog attack. It is pertinent to remember that each of the following circumstances could be defined differently depending on the severity of a situation. Just because one of the following actions takes place, an owner, keeper, or harborer is not cleared from being held liable:

  1. Tormenting

This could include a wide range of abuse towards a dog that results in the animal fighting back and attacking a person. For example, if a person yells at a dog and throws objects in its direction. If the dog responds aggressively, the owner could argue that the dog was provoked.

  1. Trespassing

Entering someone’s property without their approval is illegal in Michigan. Because some property owners use guard dogs, a dog attack on trespassers could be seen as a form of defense.

  1. Criminal Offense

Much like K-9 units, a dog attack could stop a criminal from causing damage to people or property. Liability could be avoided if an owner can provide evidence that the dog attack was needed to stop the crime.

Have you or a loved one fallen victim to a dog attack? You may be eligible for compensation due to the impact it had on your life. The attorneys at Bashore Green are happy to review the available legal options. Compensation may be available to help pay for medical bills, property damage, or lost wages. Contact us today to learn more.