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What happens when dogs become aggressive in public spaces?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2023 | Personal Injury

Maybe someone is at the popular Fulton Street Farmers Market, or perhaps they stopped in with friends at a brewery for a few drinks after work. Dog bite incidents during the summer months can occur in places where people don’t expect to be at risk. West Michigan has quite a few dog-friendly businesses and also many dog parks, and people tend to make more use of these amenities during the warmer months.

Visitors to local businesses may not realize until after they encounter an aggressive animal that the company allows dogs on the premises. Other times, people may end up hurt at a park because the dog’s owner doesn’t make use of dog-friendly facilities, like specific dog parks, and instead allows their animal to run off-leash at facilities intended for humans.

Parks, restaurants, farmers markets and beaches at both Lake Michigan and the dozens of landlocked lakes in the area may all serve as sites for vicious dog bite attacks during the warmer summer months. What happens after an incident in a public place where a dog hurts a human?

The animal’s owner is often liable

Michigan has strict liability standards for animal attacks, which means that people who own pets are responsible when their animals hurt people. Unless someone provoked the animal by antagonizing it or committing a crime prior to the incident, the owner could be liable for any costs generated by an animal’s aggression.

Even when a dog attacks someone at a park or a farmer’s market, it will typically be the animal’s owner who has liability for someone’s injuries and property damage expenses. The one main exception to this rule involves facilities and businesses that specifically allow animals on their premises. Occasionally, there may be a general business policy that applies to a dog bite incident, as opposed to a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.

Dog owners should train and leash their animals

Michigan doesn’t just impose liability on dog owners. The state requires that every owner license their animal and keep it immunized against transmissible diseases like rabies. Beyond that, those with pets or working animals in their households should fence their yards or keep the animals restrained so that they do not pose a threat to members of the public.

Animal owners also have an obligation to abide by signage in parks and other areas that require them to keep their animals on leashes. Pursuing compensation from the owner of an aggressive dog may require a complicated insurance claim or sometimes a lawsuit after a dog bite incident in West Michigan. As a result, victims generally benefit from seeking legal guidance after sustaining harm.