Our dog bite lawyers represent children, adults, postal workers, service providers, and utility workers. Let us help you if you or someone you care about was injured in a dog attack.
We get our clients the top dog bite settlement awards in Michigan. Our law offices are located in Southfield, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Macomb County.
Our dog bite attorneys serve clients statewide, including in Monroe, Port Huron, Lansing, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids.
We also have won many great settlements in Northern Michigan.
Our personal injury lawyers can meet you in any office, at your home, or at a hospital. Many clients prefer a digital sign-up so our dog bite lawyers can start working on their case immediately.
- How to prevent a dog attack
- What should I do after a dog attack?
- Attacks on UPS, Amazon, and Fed-Ex delivery drivers
- Common animal attack and dog bite injuries
- How to file a lawsuit after a dog attack
Dog Bite Prevention
While it is impossible to prevent all dog attacks, there are certain measures a person can take to decrease the likelihood of a bite. For example, a person should be cautious around strange dogs, especially any that look unfriendly or do not have an owner in the vicinity.
Furthermore, a person should be alert and aware of their surroundings, and teach the same to their children. Also, asking an owner for permission to pet a dog before doing so may also help to avoid suffering a bite.
After sustaining a dog bite, a victim may feel overwhelmed and frightened. Of course, seeking medical attention should be a person’s number one priority. However, getting a dog owner’s name and contact information is also important for a future claim. Additionally, requesting proof of a dog rabies vaccination can determine if a person needs a shot to treat the disease.
What to Do After a Michigan Dog Bite
If you or someone you care about was bitten or attacked by a dog in Michigan, you should take the following steps:
- Place a clean towel over the injury to stop any bleeding.
- Try to keep the injured area elevated.
- Wash the bite carefully with soap and water.
- Apply a sterile bandage to the wound.
- Get prompt medical attention at a hospital, urgent care clinic, or doctor’s office
- Notify Animal Control or the Police Department and file a written report
- Take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible after the dog bite
- Contact an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer to see if you are eligible for a personal injury settlement
What Happens when you Report a Dog Bite?
When you report a dog bite, either animal control or the local police will do an investigation. The purpose is to document the incident because many dogs are frequent biters. The investigator will also verify the dog is up to date on vaccinations, including rabies.
Many times, the county requires the dog be quarantined for a specified period of time.
Animal control will open a file for the incident. This should include facts discovered during the investigation, especially for bites requiring medical attention. You can get a copy of the report through the Freedom of Information Act. When you hire our dog bite attorneys, we get the report for you.
Were you Bitten by a Neighbor or Relative’s Dog?
Despite what some people believe after being bitten by a relative’s dog, they do have legal rights to sue. Although this may create a strained relationship within the family, you should both be aware that the homeowner’s insurance company may pay a settlement.
In these cases, the dog owner does not have to personally pay any type of out-of-pocket compensation.
Similarly, a person who was bitten by a friend or neighbor’s dog also has legal rights. Naturally, this can present an uncomfortable situation between two neighbors. Animosity often begins immediately after the attack, especially if the pet owner is unapologetic or relatively unconcerned about the situation. In fact, the owner will often blame the victim for causing a bite.
Approximately 61% of dog bites or attacks happen at home or in a familiar place, according to the Humane Society of the United States. In addition, roughly 77% of the biting dogs reportedly belong to the victim’s family or a friend.
Our law firm has won substantial settlements in these cases and can do the same for you. Call us now to speak to an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer.
Finally, insurance company cannot legally require or demand the family give away their dog. Therefore, if both neighbors or friends act in a civil manner, they can continue their relationship after the victim is fairly compensated for the dog bite injuries.
Dog Attacks on Fed-Ex, Amazon, and UPS Drivers
Federal Express (Fed-Ex), Amazon, and United Parcel Service (UPS) drivers are often the victims of dog bite attacks during deliveries to their customers. This frequently occurs when drivers leave their trucks to drop off packages at homes and businesses. They become vulnerable to unrestrained and unleashed canines.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 3,000 dog bite victims are mail carriers.
When this happens, a Fed-Ex driver, Amazon courier, or UPS deliveryman has two potential options for pursuing legal action based on state law. The first is to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which applies when the driver was on duty during an attack. These claims pay the delivery driver wage loss benefits during their period of disability from an attack. The claim also pays the medical expense benefits for all treatment related to their injuries.
When a negligent pet owner is responsible for an attack, they might be responsible for repaying the workers’ compensation benefits paid out by the insurer. Our dog bite lawyers have won many of these cases.
The second claim is filed against the dog owner for pain and suffering damages. Dog attacks often result in significant scarring, disfigurement, and bone fractures. As a result, a civil claim demands compensation for mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic damages stemming from a canine attack.
A dog bite lawyer in Michigan will explain the legal options available to a Fed-Ex. Amazon, or UPS driver after an attack.
The bar graph below displays the list of dog breeds with the most powerful bite, based on pounds per square inch (PSI).
Pit Bull Attacks Can Be Deadly
Pit bulls are considered one of the most dangerous dog breeds to own. While this is not strictly true, dog bites involving pit bulls are common. Pit bulls are incredibly strong, which means an attack or bite is often devastating and can result in permanent scarring, disfigurement, and even death.
However, these occurrences have more to do with the negligent or abusive training methods—or neglect—of a pet owner, than they do with the inherent nature of a pit bull. As a result, anyone injured by a pit bull should hire a skillful dog bite lawyer to determine how a pet owner’s negligent or abusive behavior resulted in an attack.
The pie graph below depicts the percentage of fatalities from pit bull attacks in each state. Texas and California had more than 25% of all pit bull fatalities in the United States from 1982-2018.
Michigan, meanwhile, accounted for approximately 3.89% of all pit bull fatalities in the U.S.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
The most common and typical injuries seen by our dog bite injury lawyers after a dog attack are:
- Puncture wounds
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement resulting from scars
- Bone fractures
- Nerve damage
In addition to physical injuries, a dog bite victim often suffers from psychological damages as well. These include nightmares, post-traumatic stress syndrome, humiliation, and embarrassment.
Dog Bites to the Face
Dog bites to the face are a common injury. Even with prompt medical treatment, these bites often leave permanent scars and disfigurements. These cases have significant settlement value because they are in a conspicuous place and many victims are self-conscious about a facial scar.
Many victims look to plastic surgeons for scar repairs and revisions. Children bitten in the face often have to wait until their teenage years for plastic surgery. As a result, they go through much of their childhood and adolescence with an embarrassing scar prominently on their face.
Even with plastic surgery, most scars are not completely eliminated. This results in feeling embarrassed and self-conscious in social situations. Our dog bite lawyers often have clients evaluated by a plastic surgeon to evaluate the scar and potential revisions so we can maximize the settlement amount for the case.
Can I Claim Compensation for a Dog Bite?
Under Michigan law, a dog bite victim has the legal right to compensation for injuries suffered in the attack under most circumstances. Compensation can include payment of medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of plastic surgery for scar revision or scar reduction. Claims are made against the dog owner or keeper of the dog.
The victim also gets compensation for pain and suffering, fright and shock, and other psychological injuries as a result of the attack. Many victims have emotional trauma, nightmares, and fear about being near strange dogs after an attack. This has a significant effect on a person’s mental state and ability to lead a normal life.
Medical costs and hospital expenses for dog bite-related emergency room visits are estimated at $102 million each year, according to the Humane Society. This does not include follow-up care, physical therapy, and the need for future treatment. The victim should also receive a settlement payout for any scars and disfigurements from the dog bite attack.
A Michigan dog bite lawyer can help you win the maximum possible settlement if your case.
Dog Bite Lawsuit Case Study
A mother and her two-year-old daughter were at a school playground. There was a pit bull in a neighboring fenced in yard. The wood fence had rotted boards and was poor condition.
The dog escaped through the fence and attacked the child. The vicious attack resulted in multiple bites to the girl’s face. She required several dozen stitches and later plastic surgery. She has permanent scars on her face.
Our dog bite lawyers filed a lawsuit against the dog owner for both the child and mother. The case settled for $485,000 before trial. It was paid by homeowners insurance company.
What are the Dog Bite Laws in Michigan?
Michigan has specific dog bite laws for victims of attacks. The Michigan dog bite statute holds the owner, keeper, or harborer of the biting dog strictly liable under Michigan law for the attack. This means the owner is automatically liable if the conditions of the statute are satisfied.
287.351 Person bitten by dog; liability of owner.
(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.
In addition, there are leash laws and other common laws used in lawsuits to get compensation for the victim. Our standard lawsuit Complaint lists all of the potential liability claims.
There are times that landlords may be liable as well, but there are some additional legal requirements to sue a landlord if a renter’s dog bites someone.
There are only a few legal defenses to a dog bite lawsuit. One defense is that the victim was a trespasser at the time of the attack. As such, no legal duty was owed by the dog owner.
The other major defense is if provocation. Lawyers defending dog bite lawsuits often argue that the dog was provoked to attack the victim. This could be a child pulling a dog’s tail or taking away a bone. However, the dog’s response must be proportional to the degree of provocation and in most cases, this defense cannot be proven.
For example, if a dog bites the face of a two-year-old simply attempting to pet it then this would be a disproportional response and not considered provocation. The issue of provocation is a question for a jury to determine. Most times, a dog bite attack is unprovoked and caused solely by an aggressive dog.
Can I Sue for a Dog Attack?
You can sue for a dog bite in Michigan if you were bitten by a dog and suffered an injury. This includes attacks on your property, public property, and on the property of the dog owner if you were lawfully on the property. An experienced dog bite attorney will review the facts of your case and determine if you can sue the dog owner or keeper.
Being lawfully on the property means that you were a guest of the property or you were there for a business purpose. This includes a courier, delivery person, salesperson, contractor, or other person providing services or maintenance on the property. Trespassers on private property are barred from suing in some cases.
One in three homeowners’ insurance claims pertains to a dog bite. As such, insurance companies paid out an estimated $310 million in dog bite liability last year, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
For a successful claim for compensation, an injured plaintiff must prove a dog owner was negligent. There are four primary elements to prove legal negligence: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. First, you must establish the pet owner owed a legal duty of care to another person. Essentially, every dog owner has an obligation to reasonably look after their pet.
Then, you must prove the dog owner breached this care of duty. For example, neglecting to keep their pet on a leash during a walk. Or, failing to restrain the dog at the home when a business or social guest is on the property.
Finally, you must prove the victim suffered an injury and damages. These are easy to prove in a dog bite lawsuit with medical records and photographs.
What is the “Provocation Defense?”
Defense attorneys and insurance companies often try to use the “provocation defense” to avoid liability. This legal defense attempts to prove that the dog bite victim took some action directed toward the dog to incite the dog to react and bite. A judge can dismiss a lawsuit in some circumstances based upon this defense.
Provocation can be either intentional or unintentional. For example, if a child pulls a dog’s tail this would clearly be an intentional act that could provoke an attack. However, a child who sneaks up on a dog and inadvertently startles it might be considered an unintentional act of provocation.
In addition, the reaction of the dog must be proportionate to the alleged provocation. The Buckfire Law Firm recently won a case in the Michigan Court of Appeals in a case where a young girl testified she “went to hug” a dog and was severely bitten on her face. The trial judge dismissed the case based upon the provocation defense but was overruled by the appellate court. The appellate judges held it was for a jury to decide if the child’s actions provoked the attack and whether the severity of the attack was proportionate to the actions of the young child.
How much is the Average Dog Bite Settlement?
There is no “average” or “typical” dog bite settlement. Every case dog bite injury case is unique and each settlement amount is based upon several factors, including the:
- Age of the victim
- Sex of the victim
- Location of the dog bites or scratches
- Severity of the dog bites or scratches
- Type of other injuries, like nerve or muscle damage
- Amount and type of medical treatment
- Permanency of any scars and disfigurements
- Psychological and emotional trauma caused by the attack
- Total of medical expenses and lost wages
Additionally, the amount of insurance coverage for the dog owner significantly impacts the compensation payout amount.
Some of our Michigan dog bite settlements include:
- $485,000 for a young girl bitten in the face by a pit bull in a public park
- $475,000 for a Michigan woman attacked on her own property by a neighbor’s dog that escaped through a fence
- $400,000 for ten-year-old girl bitten on the arm and face while visiting a friend’s house
- $375,000 for a woman with severe bites on both arms that resulted in permanent scars
- $320,000 for man attacked by a dog while house-sitting for a relative
- $300,000 for a teenage girl bitten on her face at her grandparent’s home
- $295,000 for a boy who suffered a fractured skull and scars on his face
The Buckfire Law Firm has many other examples of significant settlements. Our dog bite lawyers will fully evaluate every factor to get you the best settlement.
How Long do I have to Sue after a Dog Bite?
In Michigan, the statute of limitations to sue for a dog bite is three years from the date of the bite. This means you must file your lawsuit within three years or your claim is destroyed forever.
If the victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the attack, the deadline is extended to their 19th birthday. So, a child bitten at the age of three can still sue until age 19.
Any claim filed after these deadlines will be dismissed by the court. As such, you should contact a dog bite lawyer immediately to start your case.
Get a No Fee Unless You Win Dog Bite Lawyer
You can have an award-winning personal injury lawyer represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees unless you get a settlement.
Our law firm pays all of the case costs and it costs nothing to start your case. If your case is unsuccessful for any reason, you owe us nothing!
You Need an Experienced Michigan Dog Bite Attorney
If you suffered an injury and incurred medical expenses from a dog attack, you need an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer on your side.
If you deal with the insurance company adjuster directly, you may give statements that later ruin your chances of getting a settlement. Insurance adjusters are trained to record statements that destroy your case.
Our dog bite attorneys will evaluate your case and discuss with you the likely settlement award for your case. Research studies show that injury victims with lawyers receive substantially larger settlements than those without an attorney, even after paying the legal fees.
For child dog bite cases, it is necessary to get court permission to settle a case so having an attorney is essential for the victim. To finalize a settlement, the child and parent must appear in court with their attorney so a judge can determine if the child is being fairly compensated in the case.
If you or a loved one was attacked by a dog, contact our Michigan dog bite lawyers to discuss seeking compensation.
By hiring a personal injury attorney familiar with these cases, you can focus on your recovery with the knowledge that a caring legal professional is on your side.
Michigan Dog Bite References and Resources
My son was bitten in the face by a dog. I went to Buckfire and Buckfire to get a local and determined attorney They did everything to make sure my son was taken care of and quickly got the settlement taken care of. They handled everything to make it as easy on our family as possible. Would highly recommend them.
Bob and his team took great care of us and explained the process very clearly. They responded quickly to questions and concerns and were very understanding of our situation. We would highly recommend Buckfire & Buckfire.
I retained attorney Bob Lantzy and the law firm of Buckfire & Buckfire to represent my daughter after she was bitten on the face by a dog.
I had researched many attorneys but found that Buckfire & Buckfire and Bob had the experience I was looking for in an attorney to handle the case for my daughter.
Bob filed a lawsuit almost immediately and Was able to resolve my daughters case quickly and without my daughter having to give a deposition. I was extremely happy with the settlement and the way Bob handled the case.
Bob was responsive to my calls and text messages and kept me informed during the entire case. I would highly recommend Bob and Buckfire & Buckfire to my friends and family.
- 29000 Inkster Road
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By: Jason M.
Client Description: I hired Buckfire & Buckfire for a dog bite case involving my daughter. Larry did a great job handling our case and made sure that my daughter was comfortable throughout the process and that I was well-informed along the way. We are happy with the settlement.
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars