Victims of dog bites suffer more than physical injuries. The trauma of an unexpected attack by an animal you can’t control can leave profound and lasting emotional scars — especially when the victim is a child. Dog bite victims can find themselves struggling to process the incident while trying to heal from severe physical injuries without a clear understanding of their legal rights.
While the state of North Carolina does offer legal protection for victims of preventable dog bites, some parameters for bringing a successful personal injury claim against a North Carolina dog owner can be confusing and challenging for the average person. North Carolina dog bite lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understand how traumatic these incidents can be and can partner with you to protect your rights, give you the peace of mind you need to heal, and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. Call (800) 816-0755 to speak to a member of our team.
What to Do If You’ve Been the Victim of a Dog Bite
If you’ve been attacked by a dog, the physical and emotional pain can prove to have life-altering ramifications for you and your family. Bills for surgeries and treatments can pile up, and you may not be working while you’re recovering. The post-attack trauma can be acute.
If you’ve suffered an injury—physical or emotional—as a result of a preventable dog bite, there are a few steps you should take immediately.
- Identify the dog’s owner. If you decide to fight for compensation, identifying the owner will be crucial. Beyond that, North Carolina Code General Statutes § 130A-196 requires a 10-day observation period and rabies test for any dog that bites a human.
- Report the incident to the local health director if you’ve sought medical treatment for associated injuries. Anyone who seeks medical attention for dog bite injuries must notify the local health director.
- Document injuries, torn clothes, and related blood stains with photographs, especially if you are considering filing a personal injury claim.
- Confer with a North Carolina dog bite lawyer to discuss your rights to compensation and how to best proceed in filing a successful personal injury claim.
What the “One-Bite Rule” Means for Your Claim
North Carolina dog bite cases typically adhere to what is referred to as the “one-bite rule.” In essence, this means that—barring a few exemptions—if your injury is the first time a dog has bitten a human, the owner may not be held responsible for compensating you for damages. Exceptions include dogs over the age of six months and those left unattended overnight, outlined by North Carolina Code General Statute § 67-12.
According to North Carolina personal injury law, a dog owner can be found legally responsible for compensation if the incident took place within the past three years under the state’s statute of limitations regulations, North Carolina Code General Statute § 1-52. If the owner’s dog has been deemed a “potentially dangerous dog,” the cost of treating the medical injuries suffered as a result of the bite exceeds $100.00, or the dog bite was a result of the owner’s negligence in providing what would be considered an ordinary level of care (one that any reasonable person would take), you may be able to pursue awards.
Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Dogs Defined by North Carolina Law
Proving the dog in question has been labeled as “potentially dangerous” can be vital to building a successful dog bite case. Potentially dangerous dogs, outlined in North Carolina Code General Statute § 67-4.1, share a few characteristics:
- Previous record of terrorizing humans when the dog was not on its owner’s property
- Previous record of physically injuring or killing another “domestic animal” while on its owner’s property
- Previous record of physical attacks on humans that have required going to the hospital for injuries or undergoing plastic surgery.
When it comes to filing a personal injury claim, the “one-bite rule” can muddy the waters for those unfamiliar with unique North Carolina legal statues. A North Carolina dog bite lawyer can assess the specifics of your case to establish viability and fight to build an effective case.
Are You Entitled to Compensation?
Those who suffer physical or emotional distress as the result of a preventable dog bite may be entitled to fight for compensation from the dog’s owner. A number of expenses can be included in a settlement claim. These can include:
- Medical expenses directly related to the dog bite injury
- Lost wages that are lost as a direct result of the actual injury or as a result of an injury that leaves you incapacitated for an extended period of time.
- Emotional pain and suffering that includes phobias of new dogs, nightmares, PTSD symptoms, and other issues.
- Property damage that’s deemed a direct result of the incident.
How a North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help
The immediate aftermath of a dog bite can be hazy and draining. Determining whether the incident meets the strict North Carolina standards of negligence and liability requires a working knowledge of personal injury law; the energy to gather evidence, contact witnesses, and complete and file a claim. For those struggling to heal from a traumatic injury, this can feel simply overwhelming.
A North Carolina dog bite lawyer can help by:
- Reviewing the specifics of your case and advising you on the viability of your case.
- Advising you on your rights, explaining the nuances of North Carolina law, and working with you to determine whether to move forward with the claim.
- Compiling evidence, interviewing witnesses, filing claims, communicating with insurance companies, and representing you in court if need be.
Turning your case over to a personal injury lawyer gives you and your family the ability to take a load off and focus your energies on healing your bodies and minds from the devasting dog bite injuries you’ve suffered. The North Carolina dog bite lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will fight to protect your right to heal without worrying about how you’re going to be able to cover the bills. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to request a free consultation when you call (800) 816-0755.