When you initially hear about cases involving dogs and lawsuits, thoughts automatically turn to dog bites. However, a bite is not the only way a dog can cause injury. Dogs who are not in their yard and are roaming around the neighborhood pose a major risk for car accidents. If a dog darts into the road, or if you have to swerve to miss a dog in the road, you could end up in an accident.
In some cases, these accidents can result in serious injuries. Here are some things you need to know about dogs and car accidents.
Dog Laws in Michigan
In the state of Michigan, dogs who are not on their own property must be on a leash at all times. Female dogs in heat are not to leave the owner's property at all. Unfortunately, some dog owners do not take the law into consideration and allow dogs to roam. This can result in a serious accident.
Responsibility for Dog-Related Car Accidents
If the accident only involved one car and a dog, the dog's owners is likely to be liable for the injuries and damages. The homeowner's insurance will have to pay you for your damages because the owner did not abide by the laws of the state to make sure the dog was secure.
Because the dog escaped, whether on accident or not, the owner acted negligently and the result was an injury to another person.
If the accident involved more than one vehicle, the liability could be spread around depending on the circumstances of the accident.
For example, if you were rear-ended because you slammed on your brakes to avoid hitting a dog in the street, the other driver could be found partially liable for your damages as well since he or she was driving too close to you.
When You Do Not Know the Dog's Owner
If you do not know the dog's owner, you need to try to find out. After the wreck, look to see if the dog is wearing a collar with the owner's information. If there is no collar, check with anyone standing nearby to see if they know who the dog belongs to. If no one knows, you could try to take the dog to a local shelter to see if it is microchipped if you feel comfortable doing so.
When You Do Know the Dog's Owner
For some people, filing a claim against someone they know is difficult. Because of how often dog and car accidents happen in small neighborhoods, the likelihood of being an acquaintance with the dog owner is high.
You should make your claim regardless if you know the dog owner. The claim will go through the person's homeowner's insurance, so you do not have to worry about going to court unless he or she attempts to fight the claim. However, most of these claims are cut and dry as long as the evidence supports them.
When You Need an Attorney
Not every accident of this magnitude will require the assistance of an attorney. However, if the dog's owner is not cooperating with you or your injuries and damages are substantial, you should at least visit with an attorney for an initial consultation. An attorney will help negotiate a fair, reasonable settlement with the insurance company to ensure you are made as whole as possible.
If you need assistance with a personal injury issue or would like representation, please contact us at the Richard D. Hoffman Law Offices. We are happy to review your case and will help you make the best decision for your circumstances.