How a Dog Bite Claim Works

Should I Talk to a Lawyer About a Dog Bite Injury?

Personal injury claims occur in many different ways, from car accidents to premises injuries.  One all-too-common type of injury today comes when a person – whether an adult or child – is bitten by a dog.  These cases are very different from other personal injury cases, and it is important that your lawyer knows the difference.

In a typical injury case, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove negligence in order to get a verdict.  In short, that means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to behave in a certain way and breached that duty, which caused the plaintiff’s injury.  The simplest example of negligence would be where a person ran a stop sign, causing a car accident.  Proving negligence can sometimes be difficult, such as when each person claims the other did something wrong or where the defendant acted in some manner, but the parties dispute whether the action was negligent.

In a case involving injuries sustained in a dog bite or attack, South Carolina law provides for strict liability.  This means that the dog’s owner is responsible for the damages to the injured person regardless of the owner’s actions.  For example, the owner might have the dog on a leash and may have been exercising caution, but the dog simply broke away and attacked.  Strict liability means that the only thing we are concerned about is whether the attack happened.

There are some logical exceptions to this rule.  For one, the injured party must have lawfully been in the location he was when the attack occurred.  This makes sense, as it would not be logical for a trespasser injured by a dog on an owner’s property to be able to sue for injuries.  Another exception is where the injured party provoked or harassed the dog.

A common myth is that there is such a thing as a “one free bite” rule.  This is not the case.  Even if it is a dog’s first bite or attack, South Carolina’s strict liability law means that the owner is responsible.

The law on dog bites or dog attacks is unique and the value of such cases is as well.  If you are injured as a result of an attack, you should talk to a lawyer to assess how best to proceed.