Dog Bite Lawyers
A Dog Isn’t Always A Human’s Best Friend. Dog Bites are Serious, and You May Be Entitled to Compensation.
Dogs are commonly seen as loving, loyal companions. However, even the friendliest of dogs may bite or attack someone without warning. Dogs are animals and even the best dogs can be unpredictable. Though it's not always out of complete viciousness, any type of dog bite is painful and traumatic. Minor dog bites typically involve an examination by a medical professional and a booster shot. Deep lacerations often require prolonged medical treatment, plastic surgery, or physical therapy. Apart from causing an injury and pain, being attacked by a dog can cause long-lasting physical and emotional scars for victims.
Nothing can take away the trauma that dog bite victims experience or return one's life to what it was before the attack. If you or a family member has suffered a dog bite injury, you have the right to retain a North Carolina or South Carolina dog bite lawyer to pursue compensation from the people responsible for what happened. That compensation can make your life a little easier and help bring peace and closure to the situation. Dog bite injuries can be serious. Together, we can try to do something about it. The lawyers at Grimes Teich Anderson are experienced in handling dog bite cases and can discuss the legal options available to you.
When is a Dog Considered "Dangerous"?
Puppies will often "nip" because they're excited, teething, or being playful. This does not mean that the dog is naturally aggressive or dangerous. However, a dog may bite someone for a variety of reasons. Any dog can become easily agitated and aggressive and no matter their gender or size, no breed is exempt from this risk. A dog is considered dangerous if:
- It has severely injured or killed a person without having been provoked,
- It is owned or trained for dog fighting, or
- It is determined to be a potentially dangerous dog by local animal control.
If a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner is responsible for taking these precautions:
- Confining the dog indoors
- If the dog is kept outdoors, it must be in a secure enclosure.
- Restraining, muzzling, and leashing the dog any time it leaves the property.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
You know the saying that a dog's bark is worse than their bite. However, for others, the bite can be just as bad. If an owner hasn't properly trained their dog, the dog can occasionally exhibit aggressive, territorial behaviors. A troubling aspect of dog bites is that children and elderly adults are usually most vulnerable because they cannot escape or fend off the attacking dog. Children four years and younger are most likely to suffer injuries to the head and neck. However, the overall injury rate was highest for children who are between five to nine years old.
Each situation is unique. Severe injuries may require hospitalization, surgery, and physical rehabilitation therapy, while others require one visit to the doctor's office. Dog attacks can cause many types of different injuries and can vary in levels of severity. Dog owners can be held responsible whether the dog bites the victim or otherwise injures the victim. Unruly dogs have been known to knock people down, cause wrecks by chasing cars, bikes and motorcycles. The same law for bites applies to other injuries. Some of the most frequent dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture Wounds
- Lacerations and Abrasions (cuts and scrapes)
- Contusions and Hematomas (bruises)
- Bone Fractures
- Crushing (head and skull injuries)
- Torn Ligaments
- Exposure to Rabies
- Nerve Damage
In addition, the trauma of a dog attack and the resulting injuries may cause psychological damage, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some dog bite victims seek counseling in the aftermath of an attack.
Any of the injuries mentioned above may require extensive medical treatment, including medication, surgery, or physical therapy. A dog attack victim can sue the dog owner for medical costs related to their injuries, as well as for pain, suffering, disfigurement and permanent injury.
The Differences Between Dog Bite Laws in the Carolinas
A lawsuit arising out of a dog bite injury may be based on several legal grounds, including statutes, local ordinances, and the common law. Laws in North Carolina and South Carolina may differ when it comes to dog bite injuries.
North Carolina and Dog Bite Law
Many cities and counties have leash laws that require that dogs be restrained if it is in public. Public areas are defined a variety of ways, but most often leash laws apply when the owner has the dog off the owner’s property. Leash laws require that the dog be under control, and a dog that bites while on a leash may still be in violation of the leash law.
Unfortunately, not all cities and counties have a leash law. In the absence of local law, then North Carolina’s “one bite rule” may apply. North Carolina is one of only 18 states that still follow the one-bite rule. Under this law, a dog owner may not be responsible for an attack if it was not previously considered dangerous or vicious. However, if the dog has been involved in at least one biting incident, its owner is responsible for subsequent attacks. This does not mean that if a dog with no history of viciousness bites you, you can't seek compensation.
In North Carolina, you may hold a dog owner liable for injuries caused by the dog if you can show either:
- The dog was dangerous, vicious, mischievous or ferocious, and
- The dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s character.
A dog bite victim may show the dog was dangerous by either showing:
- That the dog had bitten before or tried to bite ; or
- That the dog is of a breed known to be dangerous. Testimony of a veterinarian to establish the dog is dangerous breed is typically needed.
Victims of dog bites can also, under some circumstances, hold the landlord of the dog owner responsible for the injuries. This applies to both owners of rental houses and owners of apartment complexes. In cases where the dog owner has no insurance or inadequate insurance, this can be important. To hold a landlord responsible, the dog bite victim must show that the landlord had knowledge that the dog was dangerous and has the power to evict the dog, but fails to do so.
South Carolina and Dog Bite Law
Dog bite law in South Carolina is pretty straightforward. Unlike North Carolina, there is confusion over whether the local leash law applies, or whether the "one bite" provision and its various exceptions apply. Dog owners in South Carolina have a legal responsibility to keep their dogs from running free and are responsible for injuries to other people that occurs off of the dog owner’s property. Sometimes there are disputes over who is the dog owner in a legal sense. Generally, the person responsible for the dog at the time of the injury is the “owner,” even if someone else actually owns the dog. Dogs can have multiple owners. If the dog is on its owner’s property, the dog owner is still responsible unless the dog was provoked. S.C. Code §47-3-110 sets forth the liability of dog owners for dog attacks. Following a dog attack, a dog owner may be held responsible for injuries or damages if the circumstances below are met:
- The victim's injuries directly result from the owner's dog's bite or attack.
- The victim occurred in a public place or lawfully on private property at the time of the attack.
- The victim did not provoke the dog in any way.
Compensation After Being Bit or Attacked By A Dog
A victim of a dog attack or bite is entitled to recover fair and adequate compensation for their losses and damages. The losses and injuries may include a wide variety of harms suffered by the victim. Financial damages available to a victim in a dog bite case are generally the same as those available in other personal injury claims. Below are the types of damages you may recover when you are bitten or attacked by a dog.
- Medical Bills
- Lost Income
- Past and Future Scarring or Disfiguration
- Loss of Future Wages
- Physical Pain
- Emotional or Mental Anguish
- Loss of Consortium
- Property Damage
- Future medical care, including plastic surgery
At Grimes Teich Anderson, we'll thoroughly investigate your dog attack or bite case and calculate your losses to determine what compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries. We will dig to determine all responsible parties, whether it is the actual dog owner, and temporary caretaker or the dog owner’s landlord. Our attorneys fight to recover the financial assistance you deserve through the dog owner's insurance or the landlord’s insurance. If you are bit on the job, you may have a workers compensation claim and a claim against the dog owner.
Compensation After Being Bit or Attacked By A Dog
If you've suffered a dog attack or bite, we know how terrifying it can be. Most of the time, dogs are friendly and playful, but if they attack, it can result in severe injury and life-long scarring. If you were bit or attacked by a dog, there are a few reasons why you may want to contact an experienced lawyer to help represent you in your case.
Family or Friend Hesitation. You may feel uncomfortable pursuing compensation if you were attacked by a friend or family member's dog, but you may have no other choice. The responsible party is almost always going to have insurance. It's the insurer who you'll be receiving compensation from, not the family member, friend, or neighbor.
Knowledge of Complex North and South Carolina Law and Local Ordinances. With the laws in the Carolinas being different from one another, the complexity of different rules can make it difficult for ordinary people to understand. This may even prevent injured victims from pursuing a claim. You don't have to accept the consequences of someone else's actions. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a dog bite injury to see what your options are.
Pushy Insurance Companies. An insurance company is likely to persuade you into accepting a quick, low-ball settlement that does not come close to covering the cost of your injury. Agreeing to a settlement before any long-term costs are taken into account can leave you uncovered for future medical bills and other expenses.
Proving fault. As with all personal injury claims, an attorney can confirm that the other party acted negligently in causing the accident. We may consult with medical professionals or other experts to show any long-term impact the bite or attack may have.
Protecting the Rights of Children. Children are the most frequent recipients of dog bites. Grimes Teich Anderson takes special pride in representing children. Minors injured by a dog bite has special concerns, particularly whether plastic surgery to repair scarring in the future will be needed, and how to pay for it. The physical and emotional injuries to children can last a lifetime, and children’s cases require many extra considerations.
Consult an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer in North Carolina or South Carolina
The law concerning dog bite injuries is complicated. However, a knowledgeable attorney can provide answers and explanations for any questions that you may have. At Grimes Teich Anderson, our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers bring experience and sensitivity to the legal process, guiding our clients through important decisions. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential injury case, call (800) 533-6845 or contact us online.