According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 20 percent of people who are bitten by dogs require medical attention. Unfortunately, children are more likely to be bitten than are adults, and they tend to suffer greater injury from the bites. Any dog can bite under the right circumstances, but larger dogs tend to cause greater injury.
Dog bites can not only cause pain and temporary injury but also the possibility of long-term damage. Nerve damage, for example, is relatively common after dog bites. The injuries are often to the face or hands, which can be emotionally traumatic, disfiguring or even disabling. Dog bite victims, especially children, often need physical and emotional therapy and rehabilitation.
Beyond the initial injury, there is also the possibility of infection, which could worsen the injury and lead to illness or, in severe cases, death. The CDC says that over 60 types of bacteria have been identified in dogs' mouths, although only a small number of these can actually make you sick. Some bacteria that can be passed from a dog to a human through a bite include Capnocytophaga, Pasteurella, tetanus, MRSA and rabies.
There is no 'one bite' rule in Michigan
In some states, there is no recourse for the victim when a dog bites that has never bitten before. This is often referred to as the "one bite" rule -- every dog gets one bite before being deemed vicious. Under Michigan's dog bite liability statute, you don't have to prove the dog was vicious or even that it has bitten before. You are entitled to financial compensation if you can prove:
- The dog bite injured you or caused you damages
- You were on public property or lawfully on private property, including the dog owner's property (you weren't trespassing, for example)
- You did not provoke the dog, and
- The defendant is the owner of the dog
The dog owner's homeowners insurance often covers the plaintiff's damages and losses in dog bite cases. For more information about recovering compensation in a Michigan dog bite case, discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney.