League of Michigan Bicyclists

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Who Let The Dawg Out?

Most of us have experienced the panic of being chased by an unleashed dog. Some of us even have ended up with a few teeth marks or crashing as a result of avoiding Fido's pearly-whites. Have faith- the law is squarely on the bicyclist's side if an injury or equipment damage occurs.

For a dog bite, it's strict liability against the dog owner. MCL 287.351(1) states:

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 and damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.

As for damages that result from being chased by an unleashed dog, MCL 287.262 applies. The statute says that it is unlawful for any person to own a dog 6 months old or over to stray unless held properly on a leash. Very often, the local municipality will have a similar law on the books. A dog owner is usually responsible for any injury/damage that occurs as a result of failing to leash their dog.

Most homeowner's insurance policies cover dog bites/equipment damage caused by an unleashed dog. If you are injured or your equipment is damaged, it is important to follow the same procedures outlined by the League of Michigan Bicyclists as when a motor vehicle causes an accident. Of course, instead of getting the car owner's name and license plate number, it is important to get the dog owner's name, address and homeowner's insurance company/policy number so a claim may be presented to the proper insurance company.

As always, should any rider have questions or concerns, please contact us or another experienced lawyer. Ride Safely!


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