Michigan Dog Bites
Have you ever taken a look at Michigan’s dog bite statute? Michigan’s dog bite statute imposes what is known as strict liability. Strict liability means that it doesn’t matter if you knew the former viciousness of your dog, or if your dog has ever bitten someone before. You’re responsible for the damages that your dog caused, period. Take a look at the statute and we’ll cite some notable exceptions.
287.351. Injuries by dogs; liability of owners
Sec. 1. (1) If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
(2) A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner’s property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner’s property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act.
Now the exceptions:
What if a child provokes your dog and then it bites them? As the statute is written, if a dog has been provoked before biting, then there’s a defense to the dog bite claim.
What if your dog bites someone that’s trespassing on your land? The statute has written trespassers out of the strict liability category, which means that if a dog bites a trespasser, that person is not going to be able to make a Michigan dog bite claim against the dog’s owner.