In Michigan, the law holds the person who owns, keeps, or harbors the dog responsible for a dog bite or attack, regardless of prior knowledge (called, “strict liability” laws) of the viciousness of the animal. An excellent guide to Michigan dog bite laws written by Michigan dog bite lawyers is “The Utimate Michigan Dog Bite & Animal Attack Handbook.”
The liability law that is used in Michigan is called the dog-bite statute. There are two sections of dog bite law in Michigan where the owner of the dog can be held responsible. This means that the owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
First, if the dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property or is lawfully on private property, the owner is responsible (liable) for any of the damages suffered by the person bitten. This section does not take into account the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge.
The second section includes people who are lawfully on the private property of the owner because there is a duty of this person imposed on him or her by the laws of the state of Michigan or by postal regulations of the United States. These people would include family members, guests, contractors, utility company workers, newspaper carriers, postal carriers, and others who were invited onto the property for a business or social purpose.
Also, the negligence law is used to hold the owner responsible for the attack. This means that the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless in controlling the dog. This can include not putting a leash on the dog, the lack of a proper sign in warning citizens of a vicious dog, and simply not paying attention to the actions of the dog.
Many times, the owner is automatically liable for failing to properly have the dog restrained or on a leash under city ordinances and rules. This might include in a public park or just somewhere in the same neighborhood. Dog owners are also responsible for attacks in these places.
Some people believe that the one-bite rule is the law in Michigan. This rule means that the owner is not liable or responsible if the dog had never bitten anyone before your incident. This law does not exist in Michigan and dog owners are not entitled to a free bite.
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