You are walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood, minding your own business, and your neighbor’s dog runs up and sinks its teeth into your leg. Your neighbor is responsible, right?
After all, the dog wasn’t even on a leash! You may be surprised to find out that your neighbor is not automatically responsible for your medical bills. That may depend on the dog’s history, the time of day, end even where you live in North Carolina.
North Carolina General Statutes Section 67.12
Many people are surprised to find out that there is no statewide leash law in North Carolina. There are only two statewide laws regulating animals running loose: North Carolina General Statutes Section 67.12 prohibits an owner from allowing any dog over the age of six months to run loose at night, and makes the owner strictly liable for any injuries caused by a dog that is running loose in violation of the statute. If a small puppy is running loose and bites you, or if the sun is still up when the older dog bites you, you may be out of luck.
North Carolina General Statutes Section 67.2
The second law, NC GS Section 67.2, prohibits dog owners from allowing female dogs to run loose when they are in heat, regardless of the time of day. While the statute does not specifically state that the owner will be strictly liable for injuries caused by the female dog, North Carolina law provides that pet owners are liable for injuries caused by their pets when they are in violation of animal control laws.
Localities throughout the state are permitted to make their own animal control ordinances, and many do require dogs to be leashed when not on their owners’ property. An owner whose dog bites someone while unleashed, in violation of a local ordinance, may also be strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog.
Just Be Smart About It
Even if a pet is not required to be leashed, most local ordinances require an owner to exercise control over his pet at all times. If the pet is unleashed and under its owner’s control, presumably, it would not be permitted to attack people, thus making the owner in violation of an animal control law.
Finally, an owner may be responsible for injuries caused by even a leashed dog, if the owner has reason to believe that the dog is dangerous, or if the dog has previously been identified as dangerous. The owner is not responsible, however, if the person who was bitten or attacked was teasing or harming the dog, or attacking the dog’s owner.
Contact a Dog Bite Attorney
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, call our dog bite legal specialists for a free consultation today at 704-326-7243. You may be entitled to compensation.