Who Are The Proper Defendants In Michigan Dog Bite Attacks?

Metro Detroit Dog Bite Attorney


Michigan dog bite attacks can be very traumatic and cause substantial injuries to innocent victims. Injuries can range from puncture wounds and permanent scarring and disfigurement to nerve damage or even death. In Michigan, most dog bite claims are known as strict liability cases. The only defense to a strict liability dog bite claim is provocation (What Constitutes Provocation Under Michigan’s Dog Bite Statute?) or a showing that plaintiff was not lawfully on the property when the dog bite occurred. 

One important element of the claim is properly identifying the party responsible for the dog bite. The proper defendant in a Michigan dog bite attack is the owner, keeper or possessor of the animal. The distinction between these terms is important in determining the theory of liability (i.e. strict liability, negligence, premises liability, etc.) that the plaintiff will rely on to support his or her case. 

The plaintiff can prove ownership by showing that the individual is the registered owner of the animal, or represents himself or herself as the owner. If the individual is not the owner of the dog, it must be determined whether he or she is the “keeper” or “temporary caretaker” of the animal. In order to be a keeper of the animal, the defendant must have a degree of dominion and control over the animal akin to that of an owner. This question is normally left for the jury to decide. 

Can My Landlord Be Liable For A Dog Bite? 

A landlord can be held liable for a tenant’s dog biting a third-party by showing that the landlord knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous or vicious nature. If the landlord fails to exercise reasonable care to make the property safe or fails to warn of the dog’s dangerous propensities, the landlord may be liable. This is essentially a premises liability case where knowledge or notice of the animal’s dangerous nature is an element that must be proven.  

If you or your loved one was injured in a dog bite attack, you should contact an experienced Michigan dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Unless an exception applies, the statute of limitations on dog bite cases is three years

Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers is a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm practicing personal injury law. Contact us today at 248-430-8929 for a free consultation and evaluation of your personal injury case