The Job Of A Dog Bite Lawyer

Role Of The Attorney In Dog Bite Lawsuits, Claims And Litigation

What is a dog bite attorney?

A dog bite attorney is a type of personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers help victims recover compensation after getting hurt by someone else. Dog bite lawyers help victims who were hurt by a dog.

Can a dog bite lawyer help me if I was bitten?

Most of a dog bite lawyer’s cases involve helping the victims of a dog attack. A dog bite lawyer can pursue compensation for the victim’s injuries. Victims could have been hurt when the dog bit them, jumped on them, or knocked them down.

Dog bite lawyers pursue compensation on the victim’s behalf. The attorney does this by:

  • Proving that someone else is liable, or legally responsible, for the victim’s injuries, and
  • Recovering compensatory payments from the liable person or party.

A dog bite attorney may pursue several legal theories:

  • California’s dog bite statute, which can hold the owner strictly liable,
  • The dog’s owner or caretaker knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities,
  • Someone acted negligently and failed to prevent the dog bite, and
  • The keeper of the dog violated a local law or regulation in a way that was negligent per se.

Once a lawyer has established a defendant’s liability for a dog bite, he then must find a way to collect compensation. This can be difficult if the defendant or dog owner was not insured.


Strict Liability

Michigan laws have strict guidelines when it comes to incidents involving a dog or dogs. This dog bite statute sets out the conditions under which a dog owner would be liable for any injuries suffered.

  • The victim must be able to prove that the injury was caused by a dog bite.
  • The victim must be able to prove that they at no point provoked the dog.
  • The incident must have taken place when the victim was in a public place or when they were lawfully in a private place,

This statute only applies to injuries suffered as a result of a dog bite. If an exuberant dog knocks you to the ground and causes an injury then the owner is not liable under this law though you may still pursue a claim for negligence if you can show the dog’s owner did not exhibit reasonable control of the animal.

Dogs With Dangerous Propensities

The idea of dangerous propensity was developed under common law to refer to any domestic animal – not just dogs – which has shown a tendency to bite people or other animals. The intention of the animal is irrelevant, its actions are all that matter under law.

Where a dog has shown previous dangerous propensity, then the owner should take reasonable precautions to prevent such incidents occurring.


In the U.S., most of the states either follow negligence or strict liability laws. Michigan is a strict liability state so an owner cannot deny liability because they did not think the dog might bite someone.

However, this liability rule only applies for bites. If, for example, your neighbor’s large dog knocks you over while you are standing in your driveway, then the owner can be found to be negligent.


Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Injury claims and property damage claims made against liable dog owners are generally covered by the dog owner’s homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. These policies usually have claim limits written into the coverage and might have restrictions about which dog breeds might be covered.

“Aggressive Breeds” and “Dangerous Dogs”

While some insurers do not ask for the breed of a dog before issuing or renewing insurance, there are companies that don’t provide coverage for dog breeds such as Rottweilers and American Pit Bull Terriers. In cases of increased risk where there are aggressive dog breeds involved, or there has been a previous case of dog-bite, the insurers may charge a higher premium from the dog owner. Some companies have a pre-condition wherein they require the dog to be trained to reduce aggression, or to be restrained in a manner that would prevent any dog injury incidents. An owner of a previously aggressive dog might have to register the dog with his or her municipality so other residents can be aware of the dog’s location.

Claim Limits

The typical dog bite liability limits covered under the homeowners and renters insurance policies are in the range of $100,000 to $300,000. In cases where the claim amount is more than the liability insurance limit, the owner is liable to pay the amount over and above the limit.


Factors That Affect Liability

Determining liability in a dog bite personal injury case won’t be the same for every situation. Liability can depend on several personal and locational factors.

The most common factors affecting liability in dog bite injury cases include:

  • Trespassing: Under Circumstances Of Trespassing, Where You Have Been Bitten By A Dog On The Owner’s Private Property, The Dog Owner May Not Be Held Liable For Injuries Sustained As A Result Of Their Dog’s Behavior. However, There May Be Exceptions To This General Rule, Such As When The Victim Is Under The Age Of Six.
  • Provocation: It’s Possible For Dog Owners To Not Be Held Liable In Situations Where The Dog Was Provoked Prior To Biting Or Attacking The Injured Party.
  • Negligence: Dog Owners Can Be Found Liable For Dog Bite Injuries If The Injury Occurred As A Result Of Negligence Or Recklessness. An Example May Be A Dog Owner Who Fails To Follow Local Or State Leash Laws. To Prove Negligence, A Plaintiff Must Be Able To Provide Evidence Supporting Their Position That The Defendant’s Failure To Follow These Laws Or Regulations Directly Resulted In Their Injury.
  • State Laws: Liability Laws For Dog Bite Injuries And Attacks Can Vary By State. For Instance, In The State Of Florida, the state’s strict liability laws generally won’t apply to injuries sustained from bites by police dogs, military dogs, or be relevant in instances where there has only been property damage—lacking any bite-related injury.

If a dog bite victim is judged to be partially responsible for the attack due to provocation or trespass, the awarded damages in a dog bite claim may be reduced accordingly.


What to Do After an Animal Bite

  • Seek medical attention, and keep the doctor’s notes
  • Take pictures of the injury as soon as possible as evidence
  • Find the owner of the animal and tell them what happened to prevent future incidents
  • If you can’t find the owner, contact local authorities for help
  • Contact an attorney to discuss legal recourse

In many cases, victims of dog bites are hesitant to approach the dog’s owner about their injuries, especially when the owner is a family member, close friend, or neighbor. However, it is essential to obtain basic information about the dog if you are considering filing a personal injury claim.

When obtaining the history of the dog, be sure to record the following:

  • The dog’s vaccination history
  • Whether the dog has ever been quarantined for aggressive behavior
  • The dog’s bite history

While large dog breeds are most commonly associated with attacks, even small dogs can be vicious at times. A small, enraged dog can be relentless and too fast for you to get away from, and you could slip and fall while running. No matter the size or breed of a dog, you should take the proper steps after an attack to secure your dog bite claim in front of a court.