Dog Bite Jury Instructions | Grand Rapids Dog Bite Attorney

A judge reads jury instructions to a jury.  These instructions are what the jury uses to determine liability and damages.

There are three alternative theories of liability for dog bites recognized in Michigan:

1. Common law, based upon negligence. See MCL 287.288; Grummel v Decker, 294 Mich 71 (1940); Knowles v Mulder, 74 Mich 202 (1889).

2. Common law, based on strict liability. Trager v Thor, 445 Mich 95 (1994); Hiner v Mojica, 271 Mich App ___ (2006).

3. Statutory, imposing strict liability upon the owner. See MCL 287.351; Nicholes v Lorenz, 396 Mich 53 (1976);

Cox v Hayes, 34 Mich App 527 (1971); Hill v Sacka, 256 Mich App 443 (2003).

Provocation is the only defense to an action maintained under the dog bite statute. Comparative negligence principles and MCL 600.2959 are not applicable. MCL 600.2957 and MCL 600.6304, concerning allocation of fault, also do not apply. Hill, supra.

M Civ JI 80.01 Dog Bite Statute—Explanation
We have a state statute that provides that the owner of a dog that without provocation bites a person while that person is [ on public property / lawfully on private property ] is liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the previous viciousness of the dog or whether the owner knew of that viciousness.

Note on Use

As stated above, principles of comparative negligence and allocation of fault do not apply.


Added February 1981.
Amended September 2006.

M Civ JI 80.02 Dog Bite Statute—Burden of Proof
The plaintiff has the burden of proof on each of the following matters:

1. that the plaintiff [was injured by / sustained damage from] a dog bite,

2. that the plaintiff was [on public property / lawfully on private property ],

3. that the biting was without provocation, and

4. that the defendant was the owner of the dog.

Your verdict will be for the plaintiff if you decide that all of these have been proved.

Your verdict will be for the defendant if you decide that any of these has not been proved.


Added February 1981.
Amended September 2006.

MCivJI 80.03 Dog Bite Statute—Definition of Provocation
When I say “provocation,” I mean any action or activity, whether intentional or unintentional, which would reasonably be expected to cause a dog in similar circumstances to react in a manner similar to that shown by the evidence.

In Brans v Extrom, 266 Mich App 216 (2005), the Court of Appeals held a person can commit unintentional acts that are sufficiently provocative to relieve a dog owner of liability under MCL 287.351. The Court held the trial court did not err in giving essentially the above instruction.

Added September 2006.

MCivJI 80.04 Dog Bite Statute—Lawfully on Property
A person is lawfully on the property unless the person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act or is a trespasser.

If there is a dispute as to the plaintiff’s status, the Court would then review the definitions of licensee, invitee, or trespasser as defined in MCJI 19.01 and draft a specific instruction for the fact pattern in dispute.


Added September 2006.

MCivJI 80.05 Dog Bite Statute—Lawfully on Property of Dog Owner
A person is lawfully on the property of the owner of the dog if the person is on the owner’s property in the performance of any duty imposed upon [ him/her ] by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States

When you need a Grand Rapids Dog Bite Attorney, remember to call Krupp Law Offices PC for fast honest advice about your dog bite claim and get honest advice about your options. Krupp Law Offices represents clients in cases throughout West Michigan, including the cities of Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Ionia, Grand Haven, Stanton, Greenville, Wayland, Allegan, Holland, Newaygo, White Cloud, Fremont, Coopersville, Middleville, Wyoming, and Rockford, including Kent County, Ottawa County, Newaygo County, Ionia County, Mecosta County, Barry County, Montcalm County, and Allegan County, Michigan.

Call for a free dog bite phone consultation. Our office can help.

161 Ottawa NW Suite 201
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
616-459-6636 or [email protected]

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