A deputy investigating complaints of illegal trash burning, along with a local firefighter, went to an East Bay Township address in Traverse City where he saw two barking dogs inside the house. He yelled out for the owner who did not respond. When the deputy went to the back yard, continuing to call out to the owner, he saw the man inside the house walking toward him. After identifying himself and telling the owner that he needed to speak with him, the 2 dogs ran out of the house. One of the dogs, a large, 100 lb dog, clamped down onto the deputy's arm and would not let go. It would appear that the man initially took no action to stop the attack. It was only when the deputy pointed his gun at the dog and told the owner that he would have t shoot it that the owner ran to the deputy's aid, detached the dog from his arm and safely secured it. The dog was not up to date with its vaccines.
The police and prosecutor's office felt that the man deliberately set his dogs on the deputy and he was ultimately charged with assaulting, resisting or obstructing an officer causing injury and a count of failing to keep his dog vaccinated. A jury acquitted the dog owner of all charges. It has been speculated that the jurors acquitted the man because the prosecution could not prove he deliberately sent the dog after the deputy.
The deputy can make a worker's compensation claim for his medical expenses because the attack occurred while he was in the course of his employment. However, he can also file a personal injury claim against the owner of the dog for his medical expenses and for the pain and suffering and other non-economic damages incurred as a result of the attack. Although in this scenario, worker's compensation would be entitled to reimbursement of all the medical expenses paid out to the deputy if the deputy were successful. Nevertheless, it would be wise to pursue a dog bite claim because Michigan is a strict liability state in regards to dog bites meaning the owner of a dog that bites someone is liable for the injuries caused by that attack regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten someone before or whether the dog has ever exhibited aggressive behavior.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact Freedman & Freedman or an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.