Negligence of the bite victim is greater than 50%
Under Michigan’s negligence rules, if a jury believes that a sober injury victim (in any type of case, be it an auto accident case, a premises liability/slip and fall case, or anything else), is more than 50% the cause of their own injuries, the jury is prohibited from awarding that person any monetary award. See MCLA §600.2959.
Intoxication as a Defense
If a jury finds that a person was intoxicated, and that as a result of ability impaired by alcohol or drugs of some type, the person was 50% or more the cause of their injuries, they get nothing. See MCLA §600.2955a. Picture the “happy drunk” at the party, the bite victim teases the dog and gets bitten (remember “provocation” is not a defense to common-law negligence). If a jury finds that as a result of their intoxicated state, the bite victim was at least 50% the cause of their own injuries, that bite victim gets nothing.
How Percent Negligent Affects Monetary Awards
The difference between “50% of the cause” v. “more than 50% of the cause”, may seem like hair-splitting, but in the reality, the difference could not be more stark, whether the matter involved a dog bite, a slip and fall, or a motor vehicle accident.
What about bite victim negligence (aka “comparative negligence”) between 0 – 49.99999999%? In those scenarios, the damages are reduced by the amount of negligence for which the bite victim is responsible. For example, if a jury awards $100,000.00, and finds the bite victim 30% responsible, that bite victim will get $70,000.00, which is $100,000.00, reduced by his 30% contribution of negligence.
Again, these negligence principles and defenses apply not just to dog bite cases, but in any case, in which negligence is claimed.