Some states follow the “one bite” rule, which provides owners some leniency the first time their dog bites someone. South Carolina is not one of those states. Here, you’re likely to be found responsible if your dog attacks someone, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.
Strict Liability in South Carolina
Dog owners in South Carolina are “strictly liable” for any personal injuries caused by their dog. This means that the dog owner will be held responsible in a dog-bite case, regardless of the dog’s history. However, if the victim was provoking the dog, or breaking the law in some other way, those facts may prevent them from recovering damages.
Dog owners are held liable for injuries and damages caused by their dog if the following conditions are met:
- The injuries were caused when the owner’s dog bites, or “otherwise attacks,” another individual;
- The dog bite occurred in a public place or the victim was lawfully in a private place; and
- The injured individual did not provoke the dog in any way.
Other individuals may also be responsible for the victim’s injuries, as the statute says that anyone who has possession and control over the dog may be liable.
Dangerous Animal Statute
South Carolina also has a dangerous animal statute. If the dog is likely to pose a danger to other people, it must be properly confined, and the pen should be clearly marked to indicate that the dog is dangerous. Definitions under the “dangerous animal” law include a dog:
- Whose owner knows or should know that their animal is aggressive (a tendency to attack other humans or animals);
- That has attacked another person in an unprovoked manner; or
- Whose owner keeps the dog for the intent of fighting.
Dangerous animals are not allowed to roam free, even at the owner’s home. In fact, they must be kept in a secured pen or run area.The pen or run area must be clearly marked that it contains a dangerous animal so as to prevent entry by the general public, especially children. It’s also meant to prevent the escape of the animal. Some exceptions may apply here, like a licensed security company’s dog that patrols a confined area.
Owners of dangerous animals may face criminal liability as well. The state could bring charges against the owner that could result in fines and/or jail time.
Retaining a South Carolina Dog Bite Attorney
If you were bitten by a dog, you need a skilled attorney who handles dog bites in South Carolina. Injuries can be serious, and may include emotional distress. Contact the team at Elrod Pope Law Firm to discuss the specifics of your case, and let us help determine if you a valid claim for damages.
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.