The trouble with being a big dog lover is that sometimes dogs don’t appreciate your attention. Other times, dogs are mishandled, mistreated, and ineffectively trained, or even trained to be violent. Those dogs can cause serious harm when allowed to attack or bite someone. Then there are those situations where it’s all a big misunderstanding. Poor Rover thought you were going to rob the place when his owner invited you in or when you were simply walking past, and he thought he was doing his job by protecting the property. In any event, if you or your child is harmed by a dog in South Carolina, you need to know about the laws concerning these types of injuries and how you can recover compensation for the damages.
Should You Seek Compensation for Your Damages if it Was a Misunderstanding?
If you are the victim of a dog bite, you might feel empathy towards the dog or their owner, knowing that no harm was
really intended. Yet, if harm resulted from the attack, you are also likely to be facing expenses for medical treatment, the potential of infection and illness, as well as the trauma that might follow you around for the rest of your life. While it may be true that nobody meant any harm to occur, that is actually the case for the majority of personal injury claims. People rarely mean to harm each other, but this makes them no less responsible for the negligence that allowed the incident to occur.
What Are the Laws Concerning Dog Bites in South Carolina?
The ‘one-bite’ rule is a kind of a loophole for liability in certain states, where the owner may not be held liable for a dog bite or attack if the dog had never behaved aggressively in the past to the owner’s knowledge. Once the dog has harmed someone, only then is the owner expected to take extra precaution to prevent similar occurrences in the future, and will be liable if they do not. However, the ‘one-bite’ rule is not applicable in South Carolina, which follows a strict liability rule instead. The strict liability rule is that the owner of a dog is responsible for that dog’s behavior, regardless of whether or not that dog has been known to attack or bite in the past.
This does not mean that the dog owner doesn’t have any possible defenses to a personal injury claim involving their dog and the damages caused. The dog owner could argue that you provoked the pet, that you were harming the pet, or that you were harming the owner, provoking the pet to attack. The dog owner might also argue that you were trespassing on private property when the dog bite or attack occurred.
The last law you need to particularly cognizant of is the statute of limitations on all personal injury claims in South Carolina, which also applies to dog bites and attacks and allows you three years to file a lawsuit against the liable party.
Special Laws that Apply to Child Victims of Dog Bites in Chester, South Carolina
Children are among the most vulnerable to dog bites. A child is far more likely to approach a strange dog, assuming it is friendly. Children are also more likely to unknowingly trespass on private property. Further, when a child is attacked by a dog, their injuries are likely to be much greater, because they are smaller than adults, less physically capable of fending off an attack, and less mentally capable of responding to a potentially traumatizing situation.
Many claims involving children can be resolved with the intervention of a guardian ad litem who is appointed to represent the child’s best interests. In some cases, the claim will be settled in such a way that the compensation owed to the child is agreed upon and placed in a special trust fund.
Call the Elrod Pope Law Firm for More Information About South Carolina Dog Bite Injuries
Whenever you or your child has been attacked by a dog in Chester, South Carolina, you need skilled legal advice and representation to ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation to cover all of your damages. Call the Elrod Pope Law Firm to learn more.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.