Millions of dog bites are reported in the United States every year.
One-fifth of reported bites need medical care. In 2017, 39 people died from dog bites.
North Carolina ranks 14th in the number of dog bites in the United States, higher than some states with much larger populations.
If you or a relative is bitten by a dog, can you sue the owner?
Fortunately, there is some recourse available to people injured by dogs.
Most people have heard that every dog gets one bite, and in North Carolina, it’s the law.
Kings Mountain North Carolina Animal Bite Law Firm
North Carolina law provides for strict liability for dog owners in certain circumstances. This means that, oftentimes, a dog owner will be automatically accountable for damages caused by a dog, even if he is not negligent. Two conditions must be met for strict liability:
- The dog injures someone or causes property damage, and
- The dog has previously been identified as a “dangerous animal.”
A dog is classified as dangerous in any one of three circumstances:
- The dog has killed or seriously injured a person.
- The dog is being kept or trained for dog fighting.
- The dog has been classified by local authorities as “potentially dangerous.”
A dog could be classified as “potentially dangerous” after it has had its “one bite.” A dog will be identified as “potentially dangerous” if it has bitten a person, irrespective of how severe the bite was. If may also be identified as “potentially dangerous” if it has attacked or killed another animal, or acted aggressively toward a person. A dog that chases or leaps at people, snarls or growls, or regularly jumps on people may be considered aggressive.
Legal Reps For Dog Bites In Kings Mountain NC
Once a dog has been classified as a dangerous animal by meeting one of the three criteria, the owner can be strictly responsible for injuries caused by the dog. The owner’s liability includes indirect damages, such as injuries sustained in a fall when being chased by the dog. The owner is also required to pay for any property damage.
Even when the dog has not been identified as dangerous, North Carolina law makes a dog owner responsible for bites or injuries if the dog is more than six months old, and is running loose after dark.
The owner of a dog can escape liability if his dog bit someone who was willfully trespassing, trying to commit a crime, or assaulting the dog. A person is willfully trespassing, however, 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, and the owner would be responsible if their dog meets one of the three criteria.
Violating local animal control regulations can also trigger strict liability. For example, some localities prohibit certain breeds that they have identified as dangerous. An owner who keeps one of those breeds in violation of local ordinances may be responsible for injuries caused by the dog.
Dog Attack Lawyers Near Me
Report any bites or threatening behavior to the dog owner and to the local animal control agency. If the dog has a record of aggressive behavior, the local animal control authority may require the owner to restrain or muzzle the dog. If the dog has already been reported for biting or acting in a hostile manner, the strict liability rule applies.
A claim against a dog owner for injuries will usually be handled by his homeowner’s insurance policy. You may sue the dog’s owner for the full amount of your injuries, 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 dog bite attorney will advise you of your rights if you have been bitten or injured by a dog. The attorneys at Campbell & Associates will strive to see that you are fully recompensed for your damages from a bite or encounter with an aggressive dog. Call us for a free consultation at 704-769-2316.