Family Pet Fights: Your Liability for Dog Bites
South Carolina dog bite laws are different than most other states. South Carolina law states that the owner of a dog, or someone caring for a dog, is strictly liable for the actions of that dog, regardless of where the dog bite takes place. Under strict liability law, this means that the owner is responsible for damages to the victim unless the dog was provoked into biting.
Most other states have a “one free bite” rule. This rule sates that a dog can bite someone once and the owner is not held liable due to “the nature of animals.” South Carolina does not abide by that law. According to one group of Charleston injury lawyers, if the dog bites someone the owner or care giver is responsible for the actions of the dog.
Additionally, South Carolina law states that nay dog that has bitten someone must nter quarantine for 10 days. This quarantine can be either on the owners property or at the local animal shelter. During the ten day period, an animal control officer must have access to the dog each day to check for signs of rabies.
Victims of Dog Bites Have Rights
Under South Carolina law, victims of dog bites may be able to qualify for the following types of compensation due to a dog attack:
• Medical bills for the injury both now and in the future
• Lost wages due to the injury
• Pain and suffering, including PTSD
• Property damage, such as torn clothing, damaged jewelry, or other items ruined in the attack
• Loss of consortium during your recovery period
If the dog bite occurs on the property of the owner, it is most likely that the home owners insurance will pay for the event. In some cases, home owners will not cover dog bites that occur from dangerous breeds. These breeds include the American Bull Dog (Pit Bull) and the Rottweiler. If this is the case, and the owner does not have a liability policy, a direct action will need to be taken against the owner. If the dog bite occurs when the dog was in a vehicle, the car policy will cover the event.
If you have been attacked by a dog, it will be in your best interest to seek legal representation. An attorney will work on your behalf to make sure that your best interests are met by the insurance company of the dog owner. In many cases, insurance companies want to “brush off” dog bites, leaving victims with mounting bills and financial losses.
Dogs have been domesticated for as long as modern man can remember, but they are still animals. Any dog of any breed has the potential to bite someone without provocation or reason. It is always in your best interest to never approach an unknown dog or to act confrontational to those you do know. If you are attacked, report the incident to the police, seek medical care, and call a Charleston attorney to protect your rights.
As a child, writer Melanie Fleury watched a neighbor struggle after being bitten by a dog. Howell & Christmas, Charleston injury lawyers, state that victims not only suffer physically but ,”endure emotional and psychological damage.” Being cautious around strange dogs is one way to avoid being attacked.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blhphotography/520468588/