Michigan dog bite injury lawyers and Michigan animal attack lawyers are often presented with the difficult task of determining who can be held responsible to a dog bite victim for the attack. Typically, the dog owner or keeper of the dog is responsible to the dog bite victim for the injuries caused in the attack. However, there are often situations in which a tenant or renter at rental property owns a dog that attacks the victim. The question becomes whether the tenant and owner of the dog or the owner of the rental property is liable for the injuries caused in the dog attack.
A tenant, as the owner of the dog, is strictly liable for the damages caused by a dog bite, pursuant to the Michigan Dog Bite Injury Laws. Unfortunately, many times the tenant does not have liability insurance, renter’s insurance, or other assets to satisfy a judgment against them for the damages caused by dog bite attack. The issue then becomes whether the landlord or owner of the rental property is responsible for the injuries caused by the dog that is owned by the tenant .
Under very rare circumstances landlords may be held liable for the damages caused by a tenant’s dog. In order to hold a landlord responsible for the damages sustained from dog bite injuries, the injured victim must show that (1) the landlord knew of the dog; (2) the landlord had knowledge of the dogs dangerous propensities; (3) the landlord failed to take steps to remove the dangerous dog from the property; and (4) the landlord had sufficient time to remove the dog pursuant to the landlord-tenant eviction laws. MCL 554.134(1).
Unlike the tenant, the landlord can not be held strictly responsible under the Michigan Dog Bite Injury Law, MCL 287.351, as the landlord is not the owner. Michigan Courts have generally held that the landlord does not have a duty to inspect for dangerous animals, including dogs, and has no duty to protect injured victims from attacks by a tenant’s dog.
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