Is the Dog Owner Responsible for Injuries from a Dog Attack in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina law, dog owners are liable for injuries inflicted by their pets in many situations. This liability applies whether the dog bite or animal attack occurs in a public area or on the owner’s private property, as long as the victim wasn’t trespassing at the time.
But there are specific exceptions to the strict liability rule. For instance, if the victim provoked or harassed the dog, and that provocation was the direct cause of the attack, then the owner might not be responsible. Similarly, if the dog was a law enforcement animal performing its official duties, the owner or handler may not be held accountable for injuries resulting from an attack.
What If the Person Bitten Is Partly Responsible?
South Carolina law stipulates that if the victim provoked or irritated the dog in a manner that directly triggered the attack, the owner might not be accountable. This provision accounts for the behavioral aspects of animals and acknowledges that even non-dangerous dogs can react defensively when they feel threatened or agitated.
However, determining what constitutes provocation is a complex and subjective process. Provocation might involve aggressive behavior toward a dog, such as intentionally striking or teasing it. It could also encompass actions the victim might not have considered provocative, such as unintentionally startling a dog with loud noises.
It’s essential to consult an experienced injury attorney if a dog bites you and you know or suspect another party might accuse you of being partly responsible. A skilled lawyer can assess the specifics of your situation and build a strong dog bite case on your behalf.
What to Do If You Are Attacked by a Dog
Knowing what to do in the event of a dog attack is essential when it comes to protecting your rights and establishing a solid foundation for your injury case. Some key steps to take if you get bitten by a dog in South Carolina include the following:
- Contact local authorities or animal control to report the incident.
- Try to identify the dog and owner. Note the dog’s breed, size, color, and distinguishing features.
- Gather witness contact information if there were any witnesses to the attack.
- Take photographs of your injuries, the location of the incident, and the dog, if possible.
- Visit a healthcare professional immediately, even if your injuries seem minor.
- Follow all medical advice and keep all appointments for treatment and follow-ups.
- Keep copies of all medical records and bills associated with the incident.
- Preserve any clothing you were wearing or items that were damaged during the attack.
- Document all expenses related to the incident, including travel costs to doctor’s appointments.
- Avoid signing any documents from the dog owner or their insurer without consulting a lawyer.
- Contact a Charleston, SC, personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases as soon as you can.
- Keep a personal diary documenting your physical and emotional recovery progress.
- Document any time you miss at work as a result of your injuries.
- Refrain from posting about the incident on social media, as your posts could be used against you.
- Keep your attorney updated on your recovery and any changes in your situation.
- If you receive a settlement offer, discuss it thoroughly with your attorney before accepting.
What Damages Could Be Available in a Dog Bite Claim?
If a dog has bitten you, you could be entitled to damages (money) to help you recover from the incident. Here are some categories of damages you could include in a dog bite claim:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disfigurement
- Lost quality of life
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of a dog bite incident to initiate a lawsuit against a dog owner. This time frame applies to most personal injury cases in the state, including dog bite cases. Because there are certain exceptions, it’s important to consult a lawyer who can identify the various deadlines that apply to your situation.
A knowledgeable Charleston dog bite attorney can make the entire process smoother and less stressful for you, protecting your rights and demanding the compensation you deserve in a timely manner.
How a Charleston, SC, Dog Bite Attorney Can Help You
Hiring a Charleston dog bite attorney can significantly improve your chances of receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries. Among the many effective steps to maximize your settlement, a lawyer could:
- Investigate the incident independently
- Identify all potentially liable parties
- Gather evidence to establish liability
- Evaluate the full extent of your losses
- Consult medical professionals for your future prognosis
- Consult experts on canine behavior
- Interview witnesses who saw the incident
- Handle all communications with insurance companies
- Negotiate with the responsible party’s insurer
- Evaluate and advise you on settlement offers
- File a lawsuit and advocate for you in court if necessary