Each year in the United States, roughly five million people are bitten by dogs.
Many bites are severe enough to require a doctor’s care, and a few are fatal.
Only thirteen states documented more dog bites than North Carolina in 2017.
Can the owner of a dog be held liable for injuries caused by his dog?
In some situations, an owner will be responsible for injuries arising from a bite or attack.
Most people have heard that every dog gets one bite. That rule is the law in North Carolina.
Dog Bite Lawyer In Gastonia
Dog owners in North Carolina are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets when certain conditions are met. When those conditions are met, no proof of negligence is required for an injured person to sue the dog owner. The conditions are:
- The dog has previously been determined to be a ‘dangerous dog,” and
- The dog causes harm to a person or damages property.
A dog can be identified as dangerous when it has killed or seriously harmed a person, is being trained for dog fighting or has been identified by the local animal control agency as “potentially dangerous.”
The “potentially dangerous” classification is where the “one bite” rule comes into play. The “one bite” does not even have to be a bite. Attacking another animal or acting in an aggressive manner toward a person are actions that will also result in being classified as “potentially dangerous.” Aggressive actions might include snapping and showing teeth, jumping on people, charging at someone, or chasing people.
Gastonia Legal Professionals For Animal Attacks
An owner will be responsible for injuries or damages caused by a pet that has been identified as a dangerous animal. The owner’s liability extends to secondary damages, like injuries sustained in a fall when being chased by the dog. The owner is also required to pay for any property damage, which may include vet bills for an injured pet.
Even when the dog has not been identified as dangerous, North Carolina law makes a dog owner responsible for bites or injuries if the dog is more than six months old, and is running loose after dark.
The strict liability law does not apply when:
- The injured person was willfully trespassing on the owner’s property. Willful trespass means that the person must know that he is on the owner’s property. A lost child, for example, is not willfully trespassing, and the owner will be accountable if his dog injures the child.
- The injured person was trying to commit a crime, or
- The injured person was intentionally provoking the dog
The strict liability law may also be applied to a dog owner who disregards local animal control ordinances. In some localities, so-called dangerous breeds like pit bulls are banned, and the owner of a banned breed may be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog.
Dog Bite Attorney Near Me
Always report any dog bite to the owner and to your local animal control agency. If a dog has bitten someone or has shown aggressive behavior, the owner may be required to muzzle the dog when it is outside, or to restrain the dog. Local authorities will also know if the dog has already been reported, triggering the strict liability rules.
A claim against a dog owner for injuries will usually be handled by his homeowner’s insurance policy. If your damages exceed the amount allowed by the homeowner’s policy, the dog owner will be liable for any excess.
If you have been injured or bitten by an aggressive dog, talk to a local attorney who can inform you of your rights under North Carolina law. The attorneys at Campbell & Associates have represented dog bite victims in North Carolina for many years, and know how to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us for a no-cost consultation at 704-769-2316.