Dog bites are an all too common problem, with more than five million reported annually.
One-fifth of reported bites require medical treatment. In 2017, 39 people died from dog bites.
We love our pets in North Carolina, but dog bites are more prevalent here than in many more heavily populated states.
Can the owner of a dog be held responsible for injuries caused by his dog?
In some circumstances, an owner will be liable for injuries arising from a bite or attack.
The circumstance under which a dog owner is liable for injuries is commonly called the “one bite rule.”
Bowling Green North Carolina Animal Bite Lawyer
The North Carolina law covering dog bites is a strict liability law, meaning that, when specific conditions are met, the owner may be accountable for damages caused by a pet without specific evidence of negligence. Strict liability applies when the dog harms someone or causes property damage after being classified as a “dangerous animal.”
A dog is classified as dangerous in any one of three circumstances:
- The dog has previously killed or seriously injured a person.
- The dog is being kept or trained for dog fighting.
- The dog has been identified by local authorities as “potentially dangerous.”
A dog may be classified as “potentially dangerous” after it has had its “one bite.” A dog will be classified as “potentially dangerous” if it has bitten a person, even if the bite was not serious. If may also be identified as “potentially dangerous” if it has attacked or killed another animal, or behaved in an aggressive manner toward a person. Aggressive actions might include snarling and showing teeth, jumping on people, charging at someone, or chasing people.
An owner will be liable for injuries or damages caused by a pet that has been classified as a dangerous animal. The owner will be accountable not just for bites but will be accountable for injuries caused if the dog knocks someone down, or if the dog chases someone and the person falls. The owner will also be responsible for property damage caused by the dog.
The owner of an adult dog found loose after dark is also liable if the dog bites someone.
Legal Representation For Dog Attacks In Bowling Green
The owner of a dog can escape liability if his dog bit someone who was willfully trespassing, trying to commit a crime, or abusing the dog. A person is willfully trespassing only if he knows he is on the property, however. A child who wanders onto the dog owner’s property by mistake would not be a willful trespasser, and the owner would be responsible if the dog bites the child.
Violating local animal control regulations can also trigger strict liability. For example, some localities prohibit certain breeds that they have identified as dangerous.
Dog Bite Lawyer Near Me
If you have been bitten or injured by a dog, report the bite to the owner and to the local animal control authorities. The animal control agency may require an owner to restrain or muzzle a dog that has been known to display aggressive habits. Your local animal control agency will have a record of past problems about the dog, which will help establish liability.
Homeowner’s insurance may cover dog bites, but there are often monetary limits on coverage. You may sue the dog’s owner for the total amount of your losses, but you may only recover from the insurance company for their policy limit. Any excess over and above the policy limit would be the responsibility of the owner.
If you have been injured or bitten by an aggressive dog, talk to a local attorney who can advise you of your rights under North Carolina law. At Campbell & Associates, our dog bite experts are dedicated to assisting clients like you. Call us today at 704-769-2316 to schedule a free consultation with one of our dog bite experts.