Dog attacks can be very dangerous, and many people don't see them coming. The old legal maxim is that every dog gets one free bite. What this means is that dog owners cannot be held responsible for the actions of their dogs until that dog has shown some propensity to bite. With that in mind, you need to understand how to anticipate dog attacks before they happen. In addition, you need to know what to do in the unfortunate case that a dog does bite you. In Michigan, there are plenty of options for people who find themselves in that position.
Recognizing dog posture
Even if you are not an expert on animals, you can keep a few critical facts in mind that will help you recognize when a dog is about to attack. Attacking dogs typically act from two different stances. In some cases, they may stand on all fours with their muscles tensed. In some cases, the dog will stay down on his haunches before leaping to attack. If order to anticipate an attack, you might also want to watch the dog's tail. If a dog has his tail tucked between his leg, then that means he is scared. You'll be in more danger if the dog's tail is extended outward.
Watching a dog's mouth
You can tell a lot about a dog's intention by watching his mouth. A dog that is about to attack will often bear his teeth at you. This may happen either immediately before an attack or in the minutes before an attack. In a limited number of cases, dogs that show their teeth are simply doing a dog version of a smile. People who pay close attention can tell whether this is the case or if the dog is showing his teeth in order to show aggression.
The eyes matter
Dogs are often uncomfortable looking directly into the eyes of human beings. When a dog cowers from a person, he is not in attack mode. This is why you should be very concerned if you encounter a dog that has his eyes fixed on you in any manner. If the dog watches you in this way, then it might be a sign that he is angry, defensive, or in some other attacking mode. It's smart to not stare directly into a dog's eyes if you anticipate that he's ready to attack. Simply steal a glance to determine where his eyes are fixed.
What to do legally when you're bit by a dog
If you suffer a dog bite in Michigan, then you do have some legal options. Dog owners are civilly liable for the actions of their pets. If you're attacked, you can start by contacting a good lawyer, and he'll explain to you how to file a lawsuit in a district court wherever the attack took place. Typically speaking, the court will look to determine whether the dog's owner had any reasonable reason to believe that the dog was going to bite. If the dog has bitten someone before or if some professional has warned the owner about the dog's biting propensity, then that owner will likely be held responsible for your medical damages that might ensue.
It's not always possible to anticipate a dog attack. You can protect yourself, though, by not approaching large dogs without first getting confirmation from the owner that the dog is safe. Keep an eye on a dog's mannerisms in order to identify that dog's intentions. Likewise, remember that you may be able to file a civil lawsuit in a Michigan court if a dog attack does cause damage to you.