What Happens if a Dog Bites a Child in Michigan?

A little girl with her face pressed to a dog's head - visual concept for a legal blog discussing the unique legal considerations when a dog bites a child.

When a dog bites a child, the child can suffer serious injuries, even if the dog was small. While most dogs are gentle and not aggressive, even a well-behaved dog can become dangerous and bite when it feels threatened or is under stress.

Children who were bitten by a dog may experience severe, even life-threatening injuries. Survivors of a childhood dog bite may experience significant trauma, permanent scarring and disfigurement, and a lifelong fear of dogs.

If your child was bitten by a dog, your family may be entitled to compensation. Michigan law provides for strict liability in cases of dog bite injuries, meaning a dog owner is liable for injuries from a dog bite even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.

During your free consultation, the Michigan dog bite injury lawyers at Muth Law, P.C., can evaluate your situation and explain your options. We have extensive experience representing children who were bitten by a dog, and we know what it takes to get results.

Common Injuries from a Dog Bite

Given their smaller size and behavior, children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog and experience severe physical injuries and emotional trauma. Dog bites can cause serious injuries to children. In some cases, a dog bite can be fatal.

Most dogs are gentle and playful. But if a dog feels threatened, it might bite. Children are at a higher risk for dog bite injuries, especially dog bites to a child’s face. Many children do not know how to act around dogs, and what the child believes is play the dog may perceive as a threat.

Common injuries when a dog bites a child include:

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Scratches
  • Muscle damage
  • Broken bones
  • Infections
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Nerve damage

Fortunately, children are resilient. But because they are smaller, dog bites can result in more significant harm to a child than an adult, and even a quick dog bite can harm a child’s fingers or toes or result in other severe injuries. In more severe cases, a child may require extensive surgery to restore facial features and function. A dog bite near a child’s mouth or eyes can cause extensive damage that can be especially difficult to repair.

Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite?

Under Michigan law, a dog owner is almost always liable for injuries caused by the animal. The only exceptions to “strict liability” are (1) if the child provoked the dog, or (2) the child trespassed on the dog owner’s property. Even if provocation or trespass happens, a child victim can still seek compensation from the dog owner through traditional negligence claims.

The Provocation Defense

Most dog bite injuries are covered by the dog owner’s homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy. After a dog bite, lawyers and insurance adjusters may try to claim the child was “provoking” the dog. However, provocation is only a valid defense if the child was tormenting or abusing the dog immediately prior to the attack. It is generally not considered provocation if the child was playing roughly with the dog.


Trespassing is the only other valid defense to a dog bite injury. Trespassing has a specific legal definition, and the success of the defense will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.

What To Do If a Dog Bites a Child?

If your child was bitten by a dog, it is important to act quickly to seek medical attention and protect your legal rights. The first step is to seek appropriate medical attention and report the dog bite incident to the local animal control authority. They will investigate and may take legal action against the dog owner.

Gather as much information as you can about the dog and its owner. Try to get their name, address, and other contact information. If you can, use your phone to take pictures of the dog and the location where the dog bite happened.

You should also contact our experienced dog bite injury lawyers. We will act quickly to obtain and preserve as much information as possible to increase the likelihood of success. In most cases, the animal will not be put down because of a bite, unless the dog has a history of violent behavior.

Contact the Michigan Dog Bite Injury Lawyers at Muth Law, P.C. Today

If a dog bites your child, the personal injury lawyers at Muth Law can help. During your free and confidential consultation, we will analyze your situation and help you evaluate your options.

Contact us today by calling 734-481-8800, emailing us at info@muthlawpc.com, or completing our online form.

Categories: Dog & Animal Bites