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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 100053
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I live in Michigan. A salesman came to the door of my house.

Customer Question

I live in Michigan. A salesman came to the door of my house. When I answered, I was holding my dog by the collar (inside the house) and he was growling and barking. The salesman was still on the porch and moved to pet the dog. My dog bit his hand, drawing blood. What are my liabilities and is my dog at risk?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:
(A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein. No attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. This is repeated in numerous disclaimers throughout the site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; and (B) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my reply while I am typing out my answer.
I am sorry to hear about this situation.
Here is the law on dog bites in Michigan:
Mich. Comp. Laws Ann., sec 287.351 Person bitten by dog; liability of owner.
Sec. 1. (1) 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 any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.
(2) A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner's property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner's property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act.

In short, Michigan holds the owner of a dog liable for dog bites to a human being that were not provoked, or the person that was bitten was a trespasser or engaged in criminal activity.
Someone in your situation would have to show that the salesperson knew, or should have known not to reach out to a strange dog that they just met. Especially if the owner told them "do not pet the dog" or something to that effect. If so, then if the judge/jury feels that a reasonable person in his situation would not have done it, then the owner is not liable.
That is of course, if he even pursues such a claim.
(Finally, on a personal note - please do not blame your dog. He/she was only doing their "job" as they saw it and how they were bred for it. Visitors should know better than to simply start petting dogs they do not know.)
I hope this helps and clarifies. Gentle Reminder: Use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please rate when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces/stars and then SUBMIT, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars or failing to submit the rating does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith.