Every year in the United States, roughly five million people are bitten by dogs.
About twenty percent of those bites are serious enough to need medical care, and 39 people died in 2017 from dog bites.
We love our pets in the Tar Heel State, but North Carolina ranks 14th in the number of dog bites in the United States.
Can the owner of a dog be held liable for injuries caused by his dog?
Fortunately, there is some recourse available.
The condition under which a dog owner is responsible for injuries is often called the “one bite rule.”
York South Carolina Animal Bite Lawyer
North Carolina law provides for strict liability for dog owners in certain circumstances. This means that, oftentimes, a dog owner will be automatically liable for injuries caused by a dog, even if he is not negligent. Two conditions must be met for strict liability:
- The dog has been determined to be a ‘dangerous dog”.
- The dog causes injury to a person or damages property.
A “dangerous animal” is defined as one that has previously killed or seriously injured a person without being provoked, is kept and/or trained for the purpose of dog fighting, or has been recognized by local animal control authorities as “potentially dangerous.” A dog will be identified as “potentially dangerous” if it has bitten a person, regardless of how severe the bite was. If may also be classified as “potentially dangerous” if it has attacked or killed another animal, or behaved in an aggressive manner toward a person. A dog that chases or lunges at people, snarls or growls, or regularly jumps on people may be considered aggressive.
The owner of a dog that has been designated as a dangerous animal will be held liable for any damages caused by the dog. The owner will be responsible 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 be accountable for property damage caused by the dog, which may include vet bills for an injured pet.
Legal Representation For Dog Attacks In York
The owner of an adult dog found loose after dark is also responsible if the dog bites a person.
The strict liability law does not apply when:
- The injured person was willfully trespassing on the owner’s property. A person is willfully trespassing only if he is aware he is on the property. A child who wanders onto the dog owner’s property by mistake would not be a willful trespasser.
- 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 violates local ordinances. In some counties, so-called dangerous breeds like pit bulls are banned.
Dog Bite Lawyer Near Me
Always report any dog bite to the owner and to your local animal control authority. If the dog has a record of aggressive tendencies, the local animal control authority may require the owner to restrain or muzzle the dog. Your local animal control agency will have a record of previous issues about the dog, which will help you establish liability.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites, but there are limits to their coverage. If your damages surpass the amount allowed by the homeowner’s policy, the dog owner will be responsible for any excess.
If you have been injured or bitten by an aggressive dog, talk to a local attorney who will inform you of your rights under North Carolina law. At Campbell & Associates, our dog bite experts are devoted to assisting clients like you. Call us at 704-769-2316 for a no-cost case evaluation.