The severity of a dog bite injury can range from minor bruising to severe wounds with long-term physical and emotional damage. Some attacks result in painful injuries, financial burdens, and the hidden cost of psychological trauma that can afflict victims for a lifetime.
A South Carolina dog bite lawyer could help you seek expenses and other forms of compensation if you or a loved one was bitten or attacked by a dog. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to determine if you have ground for a claim today at (800) 816-0755.
Liability for Dangerous Animals
While many dog owners are responsible for their pets or working dogs, they may be liable for any injury the animal causes a person who did not provoke or harass their dog. The specific laws that govern “dangerous animals” defined under South Carolina Code of Laws § 47-3-710 does not refer to a particular dog breed, rather an animal that:
- Causes bodily injury to a person while outside of a pen or secured area by an unprovoked attack. It is illegal to have dogs bred or trained to attack people or other animals unless they are used to assist in law enforcement.
- The owner knows or reasonably should know the dog tends to attack unprovoked.
- Engages in unprovoked and aggressive behavior such as barking, snarling, or lunging, resulting in the assumption that the animal will attack and cause harm.
A dangerous dog may be kept indoors or outdoors to protect the owner’s safety. If the animal is housed outdoors, they must be confined with a securely enclosed fence or locked pen area. The enclosure must be marked with warning signs alerting people of the animal’s presence.
Additionally, the owner must keep their dog on a safety harness and leash when out in public. They must register their dangerous animal with local authorities and show proof of liability insurance or a surety bond of at least fifty thousand dollars. The owner will be provided with a metal license tag that should be attached to the dog’s collar or harness.
Liability in most dog bite cases falls with the animal’s owner; however other parties such as a dog walker, or a landlord, if the attack takes place in a common area of a multi-family residence, could be held responsible. Exceptions would apply to the responsibility if a person were bitten while provoking the dog or unlawfully trespassing on the property when the attack occurred.
Injuries and the Role of Negligence in Dog Bite or Attack
If you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to suffer a dog bite, it is essential to seek medical treatment. Dogs can carry parasites, viruses, and infections that can result in serious harm in addition to any physical wounds inflicted. You may need to have medication to protect against certain illnesses and diseases.
Injuries suffered can vary, including:
- Bite marks and punctures
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Broken bones or bone crush injuries
- Head or brain injuries from bites of if the dog pushes a victim over
- On-going psychological trauma
- Infections or disease caused by a dog bite
- Severe nerve, tissue, and muscle damage
- Fatal attacks
Examples of a dog owner’s negligence can include:
- Failing to have the dog on a leash while in public
- Leaving the gate or penned area open
- Failing to restrain or harness the dog around children
- Using a rope, chain, or leash that is not strong enough to contain the dog
- Insufficient fencing or locks to prevent the dog from escaping
- Lack of warning signs warning people of a dangerous animal on the premises
If a dog attacked due to negligence on the part of its owner, you can claim compensation as a dog bite victim. Further, if you were bitten while performing job duties, you could recover damages through workers’ compensation benefits.
How a South Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help You Seek Compensation
Dog bites can be difficult injury claims for people to manage alone. South Carolina is a strict liability state for canine attacks, meaning the owner is liable for the victim’s damages irrespective of the dog’s nature or history in the event of an unprovoked attack.
Despite the law, the owner could fight back to avoid paying for your injuries by claiming you were, in some way, responsible for the attack.
Your lawyer can help you prove you did not provoke the dog and that you were lawfully on private or public property. Other ways we can assist you are:
- Gathering evidence to support your case
- Estimating fair value for your current and any future expenses
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
- Reviewing settlement offers
- Assisting with a workers’ compensation claim if the attack happened on the job
- Representing you in court, where a settlement cannot be agreed upon
It is important you are aware the South Carolina statute of limitations for filing a dog bite personal injury claim is three years. You could lose the right to claim compensation if you do not act in time.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is here to stand up for you, and we believe you should not have to pay the costs associated with an animal attack. For more information about our services, call (800) 816-0755 for a free case evaluation.