The CDC reports that between 4.5 million and 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and approximately one-fifth of those bites required medical care.
Unfortunately, 39 people died from dog bites in 2017. North Carolina places 14th in the number of dog bites in the United States, higher than many states that are more populous.
If you or a family member is bitten by a dog, can you sue the owner?
The short answer is yes, but you should know the circumstances under which an owner may be sued.
North Carolina, like many states, has a “one bite rule” for dangerous animals.
Concord North Carolina Animal Bite Lawyer
A dog owner in North Carolina might be held responsible for bites under a strict liability law. Strict liability means that, under certain circumstances, a dog owner can be held liable for injuries with no proof of negligence. The owner can be held responsible when:
- The dog has been determined to be a ‘dangerous dog”.
- The dog causes injury to a person or damages property.
A “dangerous dog” is defined as one that has previously killed or seriously harmed 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 “one bite” rule covers the circumstances under which a dog may be identified as “potentially dangerous.” A local animal control board will classify a dog as potentially dangerous if it has bitten someone, attacked or killed another animal, or displayed aggressive habits. Aggressive behaviors might include things like snarling and the showing of teeth, jumping on people, charging at someone, or chasing after people.
An owner will be liable for injuries or damages caused by a pet that has been identified as a dangerous animal. The owner will be responsible for damages resulting from bites, but will also be liable for other injuries. If someone is being chased by the dog and falls, for example, the owner will be liable for injuries sustained in the fall. The owner will also be liable for damages to property, which might include vet bills for an injured pet.
Legal Representation For Dog Attacks In Concord
If a person is bitten by a dog that does not fall into the “dangerous dog” designation, he may still sue the owner for damages if the dog was over six months old and was running loose after dark.
An owner can avoid strict liability under some conditions. Strict liability does not apply when the injured person is trespassing, trying to commit a crime, or intentionally provoking the dog. A trespasser must realize that he is trespassing, however. A child who is lost and goes into the owner’s property accidentally is not considered a trespasser.
Animal control regulations vary in different locales. Some cities regulate certain breeds, and some ban so-called dangerous breeds, like pit bulls, completely.
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 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.
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. Any excess beyond the policy limit would be the responsibility of the owner.
A local attorney with experience in handling dog bite cases can discuss your rights if you have been bitten or attacked by a dog. 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.