Dog bites are one area of civil law in which strict liability, rather than negligence is often applied.
Per South Carolina Code of Laws Title 47, the owner of a dog will be held liable for any injuries that dog causes to another assuming that the bite occurred in a public and lawful place and the person bitten was not provoking the dog at the time of attack. This is what strict liability means: that the victim will not have to prove negligence of the dog owner in order for the owner to be held liable. Further, the victim will not have to prove that the dog was a dangerous dog or had a history of attacking others. Assuming the person was at the location of the bite lawfully and did not do anything to provoke the dog, the dog’s owner must pay for their injuries. If you pursue a claim under this theory of liability, or statutory law, you will be able to recover compensation for your economic losses.
Filing a Negligence Based Claim
In some cases, you may be able to file a negligence-based claim against the dog’s owner if you believe that the dog owner did something that directly contributed to the dog biting you. For example, failing to restrain a dog with a propensity for violence, violating leash laws, or violating breed laws (which are in place in certain cities in South Carolina) may all be considered negligent behavior.
There are benefits and downsides to pursuing a negligence-based claim. The biggest benefit is that you may be able to recover a higher compensation amount, including compensation for your pain and suffering. For victims who have been seriously injured or have permanent scarring, this can be a worthwhile option.
The downside to filing a claim based on negligence is that, unlike a claim based on statutory law, you will actually have to prove that the property owner did something wrong.
Like all other personal injury claim types, a claim to recover compensation for a dog bite must be filed within three years’ time from the date that the dog bite occurred.