There are several ways that victims of dog bites in South Carolina can recover compensation for
their damages. Recovery is not always straightforward in dog bite matters, so it’s important to
speak with a South Carolina personal injury attorney right away to help protect your rights and
increase your chances of recovery. Depending on the circumstances, there may be additional
avenues of recovery that the other side isn’t likely to disclose.
The statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Lawsuits
Like other types of personal injury matters, South Carolina imposes a statute of limitations on how much time you have to bring a lawsuit for injuries sustained from a dog bite. The law is three years from the date of injury. If you fail to file within the allotted statute of limitations, the court will almost always dismiss the case unless special circumstances apply. This is why it’s critical to file the lawsuit to preserve the statute, even if you are close to settling.
When Can a Dog Owner Be Held Liable?
Dog bites are covered under South Carolina Code of Laws Section 47-3-110. An owner can be held liable if their dog bites someone, or “otherwise attacks” the person when he or she was in a lawfully private location or public place, and the victim did not provoke the dog. The statute
discusses the term “otherwise attacks,” because the dog owner can be liable for situations other than bites. If an owner’s dog lunges at someone in a park and the person is knocked to the ground and sustains injuries, the owner can be held liable.
It’s not only the owners that can be held liable; the dog bite statute extends to anyone who has
“possession and control” of the dog.
South Carolina and Strict Liability
Like some other states, South Carolina once utilized the “one bite rule,” but that was abandoned
in the mid-1980’s and now dog owners are held “strictly liable” if their dog causes injuries to
another person. This means an owner is liable even if he or she didn’t have knowledge their dog
would attack or bite someone else.
Obviously, dog owners will try to assert a defense. One of the most common defenses is that
the victim provoked the dog, and therefore they are not liable for the injuries sustained.
Provoking a dog can include behavior such as harassment, teasing, abuse, and more.
Trespassing is another defense that some dog owners will raise. The dog bite statute requires
that the victim is in public or lawfully on private property when the attack took place. If the
victim was trespassing, the dog owner’s liability is reduced.
Some people don’t realize that dog bite claims are typically paid out under a homeowner’s
policy. Homeowners policies have coverage that protects the house in the event of damage,
fire, theft, etc., and also typically protects the homeowner in case someone is injured on the
property. This is where dog bite injuries come into play.
Retaining a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
Dog bites are typically complex and often involve serious injuries and the potential for a visible
scar. It’s important you have a personal injury attorney who is experienced in dog bite matters.
The attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm have years of experience handling all types of dog bite cases
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us help you get the compensation
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.