The CDC reports that between 4.5 million and 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually.
About twenty percent of those bites are serious enough to require medical treatment, and 39 people died in 2017 from dog bites.
North Carolina residents experience dog bites disproportionately to their share of the country’s population, ranking 14th out of the 50 states.
If you are injured by a dog, can you collect damages from the dog’s owner?
The short answer is yes, but you ought to know the conditions under which an owner can be sued.
North Carolina, like many states, has a “one bite rule” for dangerous pets.
Huntersville North Carolina Animal Bite Law Firm
The North Carolina statute dealing with dog bites is a strict liability law, meaning that, when certain conditions are met, the owner may be liable for losses caused by a pet without specific evidence of negligence. Strict liability applies when:
- The dog has been identified as dangerous.
- After being identified as dangerous, the dog injures a person or damages property.
A “dangerous dog” is defined as one that has already killed or seriously injured a person without provocation, is kept and/or trained for the purpose of dog fighting, or has been identified by local animal control authorities as “potentially dangerous.” The “potentially dangerous” designation is where the “one bite” rule comes into play. A dog is designated as potentially dangerous after the local animal control authority has received a report that the dog has bitten a person, killed an animal, or acted in an aggressive way toward a person. Snapping, growling, lunging, and jumping on people are examples of aggressive behavior that can earn a “potentially dangerous” designation for a dog.
Legal Reps For Dog Bites In Huntersville NC
If the dog has been recognized as a dangerous animal, the owner will be responsible for any injuries it causes. The owner will be liable for bites and other injuries. If the dog knocks someone down, for instance, and the person is injured, the owner will be responsible. The owner will also be liable for damages to property, which might include vet bills for an injured pet.
Whether or not the dog has not been designated as dangerous, the owner may be accountable for damages caused by an adult dog (over six months old) running loose after dark.
There are some exceptions to the strict liability law. Strict liability does not apply when the injured person is trespassing, trying to commit a crime, or deliberately provoking the dog. Willful trespass means that the person must know that he is on the owner’s property. The trespassing exception would not apply to a child who wandered onto the owner’s property by mistake.
Each locality makes its own animal control regulations. Some regulate so-called dangerous breed, like pit bulls and Rottweilers, while some localities prohibit certain breeds entirely.
Dog Attack Lawyers Near Me
If you are attacked or bitten by a dog, even if it is not serious, you should report the incident to the local animal control agency. The dog might already have a history of biting or attacking people. If so, the animal control board has the power to make the owner restrain or muzzle the dog. If the dog has already been reported for biting or aggressive behavior, the strict liability law will apply. If the dog has not previously been reported, your report will serve to put the owner on notice that his dog is potentially dangerous.
The dog owner’s insurance policy may cover dog bites, but will probably place a cap on damages. You may sue the dog’s owner for the total amount of your damages, but you may only recover from the insurance company for their policy limit. If your damages exceed the policy limit, you may be able to collect additional damages from the owner.
A local attorney with experience in handling dog bite cases will know the local animal control regulations and will be able to find out if the dog that bit you has previously been reported. The lawyers at Campbell and Associates have represented many dog bite victims in North Carolina and can help you get the settlement you deserve. Call us today at 704-769-2316 for a free case evaluation.