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Dog Bites and Attacks

Dogs are a significant part of many of our lives, often being treated as an ordinary member of the family. While dogs provide numerous benefits for their owners, they can also cause serious consequences if they bite or attack another person, which can lead to a personal injury lawsuit. In South Carolina, as is the case in many states, the laws are particularly tough on dog owners.

Strict Liability

Pursuant to South Carolina law, a dog owner (or the person who has the dog in his or her care) may be held liable if:

  • Injuries are caused when the dog bites or “otherwise attacks” another person

  • The injured person was in a public place or was in a private place with lawful permission to be there

  • The injured person did not provoke the dog

It is important to note that, because the law states “otherwise attacks,” both dog bites and other forms of attacks are covered. For example, a dog owner can be held liable if their dog causes injury by running and jumping on another person. In all dog bite or attack cases, the statute of limitations (that is, the time an injured person has to file a lawsuit) is three years from the date of the injury.

Another important aspect of dog bite or attack cases in South Carolina is that it is a strict liability state. This means that an owner can be held liable even if he or she did not know or could not have known that the dog would bite or attack. Most states have similar laws, but in those states that do not follow strict liability rules, they usually follow a “one bite rule” or a negligence rule. Under a one bite rule, to be held liable, the owner must have knowledge that the dog is dangerous. Under a negligence rule, the injuries must result from the owner failing to use reasonable care to control the dog and/or to prevent the bite or attack from occurring.

Common Defenses

Owners of dogs that have caused injury by biting or attacking another person usually rely the defense of either provocation or trespassing. South Carolina law specifically states that the injured person must not have provoked the dog. Provocation may occur if the injured person abuses, teases, or harasses the dog. The provocation must also be the proximate (or primary) cause of the attack.

The other defense commonly used is that the injured person was trespassing. Trespassing occurs when a person is on private property without permission or without a need to carry out a duty required by law (for example, mail delivery). It is important to keep in mind that if the dog bite or attack occurred in a public place, this defense is not available to the dog owner.

Aiken Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite or attack, it may be possible for you to recover for the harm you have suffered. For more information, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today. At the Surasky Law Firm, LLC, we can help you pursue compensation for dog-related ​injuries.

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