Getting bit by a dog, whether it’s a dog you know or a dog belonging to a stranger, is always a terrifying experience. Man’s best friend can be a ferocious killer if given the chance. There is an expectation that people will look after their own dogs and ensure that they behave but all too often that expectation is not lived up to and innocent people are mauled by these animals.

In order to get a sense of just what a problem dog bites are, we’re going to start our discussion by looking at the dangers of a dog bite–they go well beyond just the immediate physical danger presented by a jaw-full of miniature knives. From there we’ll turn our attention over to what you should know about dog bite laws before we close out by looking at the statute of limitations on a dog bite and why it’s so important.

What Are the Dangers of a Dog Bite?

The first and clearest danger of a dog bite is the physical damage that the attack causes to your body. This means the bleeding wounds, the shattered bones, or the lacerated arteries. This damage can absolutely be deadly.

The next danger, which is less obvious, comes from germs. There is a lot of bacteria in a dog’s mouth. Bacteria can be transferred into your body through biting, even getting a direct route into the bloodstream this way. The damage that is done in this manner often does not show itself immediately.

Finally, there is also the psychological damage from an attack. People can suffer PTSD and emotional distress following a dog attack and this can be debilitating and require years of work with a mental health professional to overcome.

It’s important that when you are bit by a dog that you seek medical treatment. For one, it will give you a professional record of your injuries that can be useful in court later. But even more important is the fact that the worst damage done by a dog bite can be invisible. That is to say the potential for serious infections is not something to take lightly. Even if the physical damage from the bite was minor, medical attention is still required. If you wait too long it could mean your life, but it could also mean the opposition has a valid defense in arguing your injuries were due to your refusal to seek medical help.

What Should I Know About Dog Bite Laws?

Michigan is one of the states that actually has a statute specifically about dog bites. You can find it under MCL section 287.351. It states that “if a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

It also states that “a person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner’s property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of the state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner’s property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful criminal act.”

So this tells us a lot of information. Specifically, it points out that the bite needs to occur without provocation. If you are teasing the dog and pulling on its tail then this law may not cover you. However, it also disproves the mistaken idea that a dog must have had a history of violence in order for the owner to be held liable.

Another important feature is the focus on property. There are a lot of reasons why somebody may need to come onto a property and many of these are covered by this law. What is not covered is when somebody is on the dog owner’s property without the proper permissions. This is why a guard dog attacking a potential burglar would not be held liable for the bites they inflict. In this case the individual bitten was on the property unlawfully.

What is the Statute of Limitations on a Dog Bite Injury?

The statute of limitations is a deadline for your right to file a civil lawsuit. The statute of limitations on an action is determined by that action. However, there is no specific statute of limitations on dog bite injuries and so we have to look towards those that cover personal injuries.

The statute of limitations for a personal injury case, found under MCL section 600.5805, is three years. This means that you have three years from the date that the injury occurred to file a lawsuit. This gives you plenty of time to acquire the services of an attorney and investigate the dog bite incident but it shouldn’t be taken as a reason to wait. It’s always better to act sooner and have more time to investigate than to wait and find yourself struggling against a looming deadline.

Do I Need an Attorney?

You could represent yourself but it is never recommended. Working with an attorney is always the better option. Specifically, working with an attorney like those at Barrix Law Firm is the best way to go because an experienced attorney like you’ll find there has a deep knowledge of how cases like this are handled. They’ll also have contacts and approaches for researching and investigating cases like your dog bite one and these resources can be the difference between a decent argument in court and a stellar one.

So if you’ve been the victim of a dog bite, reach out to Barrix Law Firm to learn more about how we can help you to press a lawsuit and recover damages for what you’ve gone through.