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Moss & Colella

Michigan Animal Attack Lawyers

Michigan Dog Bite Lawyer

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Understanding Michigan’s Dog Bite Injury Laws and Owner Liability Rules

Dog bite victims and dog owners should understand owner liability for dog bite injuries in the state of Michigan. Especially if an individual is considering filing a lawsuit or personal injury claim in the state of Michigan. Michigan’s dog bite law can be broken down into three areas of emphasis. A Michigan Dog Bite lawyer can help you understand this more clearly.

  • The statute of limitations
  • The dog bite statute
  • Michigan is a strict liability state

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites

The statute of limitations is a law which establishes a deadline for bringing a personal injury case to court. Every state has its own established statute of limitations. In Michigan, the statute of limitations is three years.  A dog bite case is recognized as a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, according to Michigan’s statute of limitations, the victim has three years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit. The court will likely refuse to hear the case of it is filed after the three-year period.

Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute

MCL287.351 is Michigan’s specific dog bite statute. This statute states that to prove a dog owner is liable under Michigan’s dog bite law, the individual who was bitten must show:

  • The individual who was bitten did not provoke the dog
  • The injury was, in fact, caused by a bite
  • When the bite occurred, the individual was:
    • in a public place or
    • lawfully in a private place

It is important to note that this specific law applies only to dog bite injuries. Injuries incurred from being knocked down or scratched by a dog would not apply to the case. However, in those circumstances, the dog’s owner could be held liable for negligence if they did not use reasonable care to control the dog.

A Strict Liability Dog Bite State

Individual states determine the way dog bite cases are managed. Most states usually fall into one of two categories: negligence states or strict liability states.  

Michigan is a strict liability state. Meaning, if a dog bites an individual, the dog owner is liable even if the dog has never bitten or acted in an aggressive manner before. Therefore, the owner cannot avoid liability by claiming they had no warning or prior knowledge that the dog could be a danger or was likely to bite.

While Michigan uses a strict liability rule for dog bites, it uses a negligence rule for other dog-related injuries – i.e. scratches, injuries incurred from being knocked down, etc.

Dog Bite liability Defenses for Dog Owners

Provocation and trespassing are the two defenses a dog owner in Michigan has to a bite claim.  

If the individual who was bitten provoked the dog by teasing or angering it, then Michigan’s dog bite statute does not apply. Therefore, if the dog owner can show the dog was provoked, they may not be held liable for the bite.

Michigan’s dog bite law states that the individual who was bitten must either have been on public property or “lawfully” on private property. Therefore, if the dog owner can show the individual bitten was trespassing or not “lawfully” on the private property, they may not be held liable for the bite.

Our Attorneys

Dedicated to Serving You
Dedicated To Serving You

Michigan Animal Attack Lawyers

To find out more about what our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys can do for you, e-mail us or call us at 1 (800) MUST-WIN (1-800-687-8946).

We are ready to provide strong representation to motorcycle crash victims in Detroit and throughout Michigan.

At our law firm, we understand that motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries. Whether you or a loved one has suffered a motorcycle head injury, back injury or other catastrophic injury, we can help. If you have lost a family member in a fatal motorcycle accident, we will stand by your side.

We Know How to Win Dog Bite Cases

We know what it takes to get results.

Our record for success is built on the fact that we are aggressive and that we do not back down from a challenge. We know the opposition may be fierce. That makes no difference to us. We go into every case with the full force of all of our knowledge, energy and creativity, ready to do everything it takes to see that you get the compensation you need to move forward with your life. For specific examples of dog bite cases we have won, visit our Verdicts and Settlements page.

To learn more, please visit our Dog Bite Information Center.

We are here to provide you the level of legal representation that you deserve.

Contact us today learn about the service our attorneys can provide in your dog bite or animal attack case.

Michigan Dog Bite Facts

Dedicated to Serving You

Dog Bite statistics nationwide are alarming. Nearly 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year and 50% of dog bite fatalities are children under 10 years old. Fatal dog attacks usually occur very near the family home. More than half of the fatalities from dog bites and dog attacks were inflicted by Pit Bulls and Rottweiler dogs, Rottweiler’s statistically being the most fatal. Other dog breeds in Michigan considered to be most statistically likely to bite are German Shepherds, wolf hybrids, Chow Chows, and Dobermans. Nearly 2% of the population are nipped or bitten by dogs, either vicious dogs or merely undisciplined.

Before your dog attack or serious dog bites, chances are you never thought about Michigan dog bite law. Statistics on dog bites and dog attacks in Michigan reveal that the great majority of dog bites and attacks are suffered by children under 12 years of age. Dog bites and attacks are unpredictable and terrifying. This is why hiring the best lawyer to handle your dog bite claim is critical. Under Michigan law, a dog owner is liable for a bite or attack, regardless of whether the dog displayed vicious tendencies. However, in some cases, an owner may argue “provocation.” Our lawyers have filed and won these cases, successfully defeating the “provocation” defense on countless occasions.


The Michigan statute [MCL 287.321] defines “dangerous animal” as a dog or other animal that bites or attacks a person, or a dog that bites or attacks and causes serious injury or death to another dog while the other dog is on the property or under the control of its owner. However, a dangerous animal does not include any of the following: an animal that bites or attacks a person who is knowingly trespassing on the property of the animal’s owner; an animal that bites or attacks a person who provokes or torments the animal; or an animal that is responding in a manner that an ordinary and reasonable person would conclude was intended to protect a person if that person is engaged in a lawful activity or is the subject of an assault.

If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, call us. The consultation is free, the advice is priceless and you never have to pay an attorney fee UNTIL we win.

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