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Michigan Ranks in the Top 10 States for Dog Bites. This Is What Delivery Drivers Should Do if They’re Bitten.

Michigan Ranks in the Top 10 States for Dog Bites. This Is What Delivery Drivers Should Do if They’re Bitten.

The vintage TV trope of mailmen being victimized by neighborhood dogs is far from a cliche – especially here in the Great Lakes State. That’s because Michigan is among the top 10 states nationally for dog attacks on postal workers. And with the ever-increasing number of drivers working for services like Amazon, UPS, Fedex, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Domino’s Pizza, and other popular delivery firms, it seems not unlikely that the state’s dog bite statistics are going to rise even higher.

In addition to putting innocent delivery drivers in harm’s way, that statistic can put every dog owner at risk, given Michigan’s very strict liability laws that hold pet owners responsible for even a single bite inflicted on an authorized delivery driver (or any other hapless victims for that matter). In recent months, uncontrolled dogs across the state have attacked a 9-year-old boyravaged a woman whose son had attempted to help a stray Rottweiler, and killed another four-year-old child. Furthermore, mere weeks ago, an Oakland County man was mauled to death by his dog in a horrifying turn of events. Those types of tragic incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, a local newspaper reports that in the city of Detroit alone there are hundreds of dog bites reported annually.


How Does Michigan Law Treat Dog Bite Liability for Pet Owners?

As we just noted, Michigan has very stringent laws holding dog owners responsible for their pets – even if their dogs have had no prior vicious behavior. Specifically, state law says the following:

(1) 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.

(2) 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 this 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 or criminal act.

As you can see, that means postal workers and delivery drivers in particular are broadly protected under Michigan law. Let’s discuss that in greater detail with special attention to what delivery personnel can expect if they suffer a dog bite.


Steps to Follow For Michigan Delivery Drivers Who Are Attacked by Dogs

Needless to say, the very first thing you should do if you’ve been bitten is to seek qualified first aid. Call 911 and ask for immediate assistance from emergency medical technicians who will be well versed in how to deal with the trauma inflicted by dog bites. At the same time, be sure to request law enforcement support on the scene – having a police report that outlines the particulars of the incident can provide essential evidence later on. Meanwhile, as you wait for the ambulance and police officers to arrive, apply pressure on any wounds to help stop the bleeding, and remain sitting or prone on the ground to avoid falling should you happen to become dizzy or faint. You may also need a tetanus vaccine if you haven’t received one within five years of the incident.

When you’re able, be sure to contact the human relations department at your company to report the incident and to obtain any workers’ compensation benefits for which you’re eligible to help cover medical expenses and lost wages. But one thing to keep in mind is that workers’ comp is not a state-run program, which means that while most employers are required to offer it, there can be wide differences in how such plans are administered. And, of course, there are some companies that attempt to skirt the law by not providing this valuable protection for their employees. If you suspect your employer is one of those scofflaws, you may have grounds for legal action and should contact us immediately. As we’ve noted in the past, any Michigan employer with “three or more employees, or one employee working more than 35 hours per week for 13 weeks or longer” is legally required to carry workers’ comp coverage (though there are some exceptions to that rule).

You may also have legal grounds to seek additional compensation from your employer if you are put in harm’s way as a condition of your employment. This could be particularly important for Amazon drivers to know, since newspaper reports state that the firm doesn’t consider its “flex drivers” to be employees and therefore doesn’t cover them under its workers’ compensation plan. In this type of circumstance, a dedicated personal injury attorney can help you be sure that you receive all the benefits to which you’re entitled, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced as a result of the attack. Depending upon the situation, you might also be entitled to seek punitive damages from the dog’s owners if it can be shown they were habitually irresponsible in securing their animals.


What to Do if You Own a Dog – Even if Your Pet Has Never Harmed Anyone

All Michigan dog owners would be wise to have adequate liability insurance in place to safeguard family finances if their pet should ever (God forbid) attack anyone. Most homeowner insurance policies provide some degree of liability protection, but if you have significant assets you may also wish to purchase an umbrella policy to more strongly secure your household’s financial safety net. Such policies are typically affordable (generally around $200 a year for $1 million in coverage) and can definitely help you sleep better at night!

Beyond that, by making delivery drivers aware that you have pets on your premises you can help prevent needless dog bite incidents. Posting “beware of dog” signs on fences or displaying them on your front door will let visitors know to pay attention to their surroundings, or not to expose themselves to potential injuries. But you should also know that merely putting up signs to warn people about your dog does not release you from liability if your pet injures anyone. That’s because, as we’ve noted, individuals legally entering your property are protected by Michigan law if they suffer dog bites. (The only exceptions are people who are trespassing or engaging in some other criminal activity on your premises.)

Finally, if your dog does bite someone, the incident must be immediately reported to animal control. This is essential to protect everyone involved, especially since rabies vaccines must be administered to victims as soon as possible – particularly if the animal in question hasn’t been vaccinated or cannot be located. Remember, too, that all dogs older than 12 weeks are legally required to be vaccinated against rabies in Michigan. For more safety advice dog owners should take into consideration, the city of Mount Clemens has put together a helpful website listing a number of points that every dog owner statewide should know.


If You’re Bitten, You Can Depend on Us to Help You Recover

Whether you’re a delivery driver, a postal employee, or just a friendly neighbor who falls victim to an unexpected dog bite, the personal injury attorneys at Mike Morse Law Firm have substantial experience dealing with these types of situations, and can help protect the legal rights to which you’re entitled. To get us working on your case right away, and so we can gather evidence while it’s still fresh to help you receive all the compensation you deserve, call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946). Don’t wait too long — there’s generally just a three-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases, which makes filing legal paperwork in a timely manner essential if you’ve been bitten.

Michigan Ranks in the Top 10 States for Dog Bites. This Is What Delivery Drivers Should Do if They’re Bitten.

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.