Michigan is one of many states which have specific laws regarding dog bites and liability. Dog bites are covered under MCLA 287.351, which states that the owner of a dog is liable if it bites someone if that person is on public property or lawfully on private property, including the dog owner’s property. The liability is implied regardless of the past aggressiveness or lack thereof. The law does not apply if the person is trespassing or is not invited onto the property.
Dog Law of 1919
Despite being updated, Michigan has kept their dog laws as the “Dog Law of 1919” since it was passed on August 14, 1919. While some of these laws have changed over the years, some of the same principles have been carried through to as recently as August 2020. These laws also cover the licensing that is required for dogs, including the requirements.
Detroit Dog Licensing
In Detroit, a dog license doubles as proof of ownership and that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. The tags given to the dog owner have a unique identification number on it that is assigned to that dog and owner.
To obtain your license, you must bring owner identification, proof of the rabies vaccine, and payment ($10 for neutered/spayed dogs and $15 for not neutered/spayed dogs).
The licenses will not be issued to dog owners if the dog’s rabies vaccine expires in less than 31 days of the date the application is requested. A veterinarian must also administer the vaccination.
As stated in the Dog Law of 1919, licensing is required to specify the dog’s breed, sex, age, color, and markings. The previous owner’s information must also be specified if the dog was purchased or given by someone else.
What To Do If A Dog Bites You
Getting bitten by a dog can be a scary situation – even if it is the family pet or a dog you have never seen before. If you get bitten by a dog, you should do your best not to panic as dogs tend to pick up on emotion. Panic could only exasperate the situation more.
If you get bit by a dog, follow these steps:
- Wash the wound using a mild soap and rinse with warm tap water for five to ten minutes.
- Use pressure to slow the bleeding.
- Apply an over the counter antibiotic ointment or cream if you have it available.
- Wrap the wound with a sterile bandage and see a medical professional.
- Keep the wound clean and tend to it as instructed by your physician.
- Keep an eye on infection symptoms, including redness, swelling, increased pain, or the presence of fever.
Bacteria and Infection Risk
An estimated 50% of dog bites produce bacteria. The bacteria that a dog has in its mouth has the potential to cause some severe infections if not taken care of properly. For example, Staphylococcus, Pasteurella, Streptococcus, and Capnocytophaga may be found in the wound created by a dog’s bite.
If a dog is unvaccinated or you are not sure, you could potentially be exposed to rabies. The reason doctors ask so many questions when someone is bit by a dog is that there is a possibility of it being more than “just a bite.”
Bite Wound Assessment
Dr. Ian Dunbar created a dog bite scale that assesses a bite’s severity based on the wound’s pathology. This bite scale is commonly used to evaluate dog bites and their severity based on a level one through level six.
Level 1: The dog may show obnoxious or aggressive behavioral markers, but they do not make teeth-to-skin contact.
Level 2: The dog will make skin-contact with its teeth, but there will be no puncture mark. There may be marks that bleed due to the lateral movement of the teeth across the skin, but not a vertical puncture.
Level 3: One to four puncture marks are present, but the vertical puncture is no deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine tooth.
Level 4: One to four puncture marks are present, and the vertical puncture marks are deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine tooth. There may be significant bruising from the dog clamping down for X number of seconds or whipping its head back and forth.
Level 5: There are multiple instances of bites from the dog with at least two punctures categorized as level 4. These can also include several attacks that produce at least one level 4 bite each.
Level 6: The victim of the bite is dead.
When To Call Detroit Dog Bite Lawyers
Dog bites can produce a significant amount of damage. Even though Michigan is considered a liability state, the victim of a dog bite may still be required to take the dog’s owner to court to recover damages.
At TorkLaw, we recommend calling and talking to a legal professional if a dog has bitten you. The reason for this is because the dog bite could potentially cause infection, creating even more extensive problems for you in terms of medical bills and handling lost wages.
If you have to go to the hospital or doctor for a dog bite, this should be your sign that you need to reach out for a free case consultation. If the dog’s bite is deep enough to require stitches or, even worse, surgical measures, you are looking at a decent medical bill.
Hiring Legal Counsel
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an attack by a dog and sustained serious bite injury, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses. Even though a dog owner is liable for the medical bills incurred due to their dog’s bite, you may be entitled to other damages such as lost wages, rehabilitation, therapy, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
If the dog has bitten frequently, you may even be entitled to punitive damages as seen fit by the judge or jury. The legal staff at TorkLaw are your Detroit dog bite lawyers, providing free consultations through our website or over the phone at 888.845.9696.