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Due to the strength of many canines, dog attacks can lead to numerous types of injuries and losses for a victim. Unfortunately, under extreme circumstances, a severe dog bite can even result in death. If your loved one was killed after being attacked by a dog, the widespread impact of this event cannot be understated.

While the thought of pursuing legal action might seem daunting or overwhelming, a successful lawsuit might help to alleviate your financial strain and allow you to focus on spending time with your loved ones during this tragic time. An attorney who is familiar with claims stemming from fatal dog bites in Michigan could prove to be a compassionate and valuable legal ally.

Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a person is killed in a fatal dog bite case, there are a number of parties who might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. These include:

  • Spouse and children
  • Parents and grandparents
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Stepchildren
  • Parties who are named in the will of the deceased person

Essentially, if a decedent could have filed an injury claim—had they survived a dog attack—this is considered legal grounds for a wrongful death claim. Because these cases are often complex, the parties involved might benefit from hiring an attorney who is familiar with claims arising from fatal dog bites in Michigan.

Deaths by Pit Bulls in Michigan

The following names have been identified as fatal dog bite victims in various media outlets throughout Michigan. These incidents occurred between 2010-2016.

  • Elizabeth Rivera, 71, of Detroit, Mich. on July 16, 2016: Killed by a family pit bull in her home.
  • Xavier Strickland, 4, of Detroit, Mich. on Dec. 2, 2015: Killed by a neighbor’s pit bull mixes while walking with his mother.
  • Rebecca Hardy, 22, of Port Huron, Mich. on Dec. 3, 2015: Killed by a pit bull and pit bull-husky mix in the yard.
  • Tarilyn Bowles, three weeks old, of Detroit, Mich. on Oct. 4, 2012: Killed by a family pit bull in her home.
  • Darius Tillman, 15 days old, of Kalamazoo, Mich. on Feb. 19, 2011: Killed by a family pit bull in his home.

Fatal Pit Bull Attacks in the United States

The bar chart below shows the distribution of victim’s ages from pit bull attacks throughout the country from 1982-2018.

Pit bull fatality victim age distribution chart - Buckfire Law

Overwhelming, children 10 years and younger are responsible for nearly half of all pit bull fatalities from 1982-2018.

Age Group Range Counts

  • 0-10: 225
  • 11-20: 8
  • 21-30: 18
  • 31-40: 21
  • 41-50: 38
  • 51-60: 40
  • 61-70: 39
  • 71-80: 37
  • 81-90: 29
  • 91-100: 8

Fatal Pit Bull Attacks in Michigan

The line graph below shows the number of deaths from pit bulls each year from 1982-2018.

There was a sharp increase in pit bull deaths around 2000, which can likely be attributed to an increased usage of the internet. As such, there is a chance that the deaths in the years prior could be higher than reported. The chart shows an increasing trend over the last 20 years in pit bull attacks each year.

Fatal pit bull attacks by year - Buckfire Law

Proving Liability for a Fatal Attack

In Michigan, it must be shown that a pet owner was at fault for a fatal dog bite incident. According to Michigan Compiled Laws §287.351, it must be shown that:

  • The victim’s death was the result of a dog bite or attack
  • The decedent did not provoke the dog
  • The victim was in a public place or lawfully on private property when the bite occurred

Proving liability in claims arising from fatal dog bites is often complex, requiring the knowledge and experience of a Michigan lawyer.

The Possibility of a Settlement

Sometimes, a settlement can be reached before a fatal dog bite claim is brought to trial in Michigan. If successful, a settlement might help to spare a grieving claimant the necessity of navigating a wrongful death claim, as well as to help save both money and time for all parties involved.

A seasoned lawyer could enter into settlement negotiations with a defendant in order to determine if this avenue is possible for a decedent’s surviving family members. If not, however, a legal professional could work to file a lawsuit to request adequate compensation.

Seeking Legal Help for a Fatal Dog Bite Claim in Michigan

If your loved one was killed after being attacked by a dog, you are likely to be traumatized and unsure of your legal options. By contacting an attorney who is familiar with fatal dog bite claims in Michigan, you could pursue compensation to ease your financial burden and allow you to spend time with your family.

Because of the important deadlines that exist for pursuing a wrongful death claim, beginning a case as soon as possible could be beneficial. Whenever you feel ready, reach out to a legal professional at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. to begin taking legal action.

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