You’ve been bitten by a dog, which is traumatizing enough, but then the owner decides to claim that he is not responsible. Does he have the right?
Dog bite claims can be complex and subjective. It’s important to retain a skilled South Carolina personal injury attorney who has ample experience handling dog bite cases. In the meantime, here’s a look at what you need to know about the laws in South Carolina and what defenses a dog owner can assert.
Strict Liability in South Carolina
South Carolina addresses dog bite cases under the legal theory of strict liability. Many other states have something called a “one-bite rule.” This means the dog’s owner will only be liable for injuries caused by the dog if the owner knew, or had reason to know, that the dog was possibly dangerous or had a predisposition to attack. The one-bite rule is more favorable to dog owners than strict liability.
South Carolina takes a different approach. It does not matter whether the owner knew the dog was aggressive or not; the victim can bring a lawsuit based on strict liability. The dog owner may, however, still raise several defenses to avoid having to pay out any money for your injuries and damages.
Defenses to Dog Bites in South Carolina
In order to be successful in a dog bite action, the victim cannot have provoked the dog, for example, by teasing or harassing it. For example, if you are teasing the dog through the fence and it jumps over and bites you, the owner will assert the defense of provocation.
The other main defense in a dog bite case is trespassing. The law requires that the victim be on public property or lawfully on private property when the injury occurred. If the victim is on private property without the owner’s permission and there is no need to carry out an imposed duty, like a mail carrier, then the victim is trespassing. South Carolina limits homeowner liability for trespasser injuries in many scenarios, including dog bite incidents.
What Else to Know About Dog Bite Incidents in South Carolina
Like other personal injury claims, there is a limited amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit or your claim is barred by the statute of limitations. When it comes to damages, victims are entitled to receive both economic and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering or emotional distress. Typically, dog bite cases are covered under homeowner insurance policies so be sure to get applicable insurance information from the dog owner.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, please contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm to schedule a consultation. Because dog bite claims are complex, it’s best to have an experienced attorney by your side. Contact us online, or call our office at 803-599-3080 to schedule a consultation.
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.