Our pets are dear to us, and sometimes we forget that they may cause a threat to others. Most dogs are sweet and loving animals, but even so, dog bites are fairly common and can be serious. Situations often arise where a dog is protective or aggressive towards a human. Even with well-trained animals, someone may get seriously injured.
SC Dog Bite Laws
South Carolina’s dog bite law states that if the dog attack occurs while the victim is on public property or is lawfully on private property (either at the invitation of the owner or under obligation of SC or US law), the dog owner is liable for the victim’s injuries. South Carolina dog bite law does not include the “one bite free” rule. This rule allows a dog to have one reported case of aggressive behavior (including bites, growling, and snapping) without the owner being held liable. Conversely, North Carolina does have the one bite free rule. North Carolina’s dog bite law considers the dog owners liable only if the dog was out at night, is over six months of age and the owner or keeper is not nearby or if the dog is considered a dangerous animal due to previous behavior issues.
Reporting the Dog Bite
Doctors that treat dog bites are obligated to report the incident to the local Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) department. If medical treatment is not sought, then it is the responsibility of the victim to make the report. Once a report has been made, the health department can serve a notice to the dog’s owner.
Health Concerns Beyond Physical Injury- Rabies
Dogs suspected of biting someone are required by state law to be placed in quarantine for 10 days. During this time, a veterinarian must be allowed to examine the dog for signs of the rabies virus, which can be transmitted through saliva. Dogs that exhibit signs of the rabies virus will be euthanized and examined by public health officials. If the dog cannot be located, the bite victim will be administered the rabies vaccine. DHEC is required to have rabies vaccines available for victims who have sustained a dog bite.
If litigation is pursued, any legal fees and payments that a dog owner is found liable for may be covered by their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance (check your policy for limit amounts). If conditions of the attack allow for a case to be brought against the dog owner, the victim could receive coverage for the following:
- Existing or future medical bills resulting from the bite (including coverage of the rabies vaccine)
- Loss of income during treatment for the bite
- Damage to property, including torn garments
- Pain and suffering: physical and emotional stress including fear of dogs
- Loss of consortium: any harm done to the relationship with spouse or family as a result of the dog bite
Elrod Pope Law Firm and Dog Bite Cases
A dog bite has the potential to change the lives of many people, whether you are the victim or the dog owner. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack resulting in a serious bite, let Elrod Pope Law Firm help you move through the steps to get the coverage you deserve. We are here to serve you.
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.