Dog bites are a growing problem in South Carolina as well as the rest of the nation. According to the CDC dog bite data, In the United States, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually. 1 in 5 bites will become infected. Many of these dog bites require medical attention. Unfortunately, and perhaps most disturbing, is that children are often the victims of dog bites.
During 2019 in South Carolina, 307 dog bite claims were filed, and the average cost of these claims was over $44,000 with the value of these claims being estimated at nearly $14 million dollars. (Insurance Information Institute). This is data just for claims filed, there were likely exponentially more bites or attacks that didn’t result in an insurance claim. Make sure you and your loved ones are protected, we can help.
Dog Owners can be held responsible if their dog (or another animal) bites or attacks. If you live in South Carolina and have suffered injuries after being bitten or attacked by a dog or another animal, it is important to know your legal rights. South Carolina has strict liability for dog bites. The Lovely Law Firm handles dog bite cases across the state.
You can receive compensation for your injury, lost wages, medical expenses, scarring, and others. Seeking personal injury compensation for a dog bite can be very complex. It often involves several interested parties in addition to the injured person(s). Because initial medical treatment is likely paid for by your medical insurance company, they will likely want to be reimbursed and if a homeowner’s insurance policy provided coverage, they will be included in the settlement equation as well.
It is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help you evaluate all your options and offers or you could find yourself with very little left to compensate you for your injury, past and future loss.
Millions of Americans own dogs and other pets. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 60 million U.S. households own at least one or more dogs. While dogs can be terrific companions, they can also bite people. Dog bites can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries. In South Carolina, the state has enacted a law to make certain that people who have been bitten by dogs and the families of those who have been killed will be able to recover compensation for their losses. The attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm are prepared to help victims to secure damages so that they can be made financially whole.
Anyone can be bitten by dogs. However, children are especially at risk. Children who are bitten by dogs are also likelier to suffer serious injuries than are victims who are older. The South Carolina law is focused on protecting the victims by making the dog owners strictly liable when they bite others. Working with a lawyer might help you to ensure that you might recover the compensation to which you should be entitled.
Strict liability for dog bites in Myrtle Beach
Under S.C. Code Ann. § 47-3-110, dog owners and people who have dogs in their care are liable for the damages that are caused by dogs when the attacks occur in public or private places. When they happen in private places, the owner or caretaker will be liable as long as the person who was bitten was on the property with the express or implied consent of the property’s owner or lessor. This means that the owner or lessor may be liable to invited guests as well as people who are on the property for business purposes such as postal workers or meter readers.
South Carolina’s law is a strict liability statute. This means that the victim does not have to prove that the dog owner or caretaker knew or had reason to know that the dog had a propensity to attack. By contrast, some other states have one-bite laws in which the dog owner or caretaker will only be held liable if they knew or had reason to know of the dog’s propensity to bite others.
In addition to bites, dog owners or caretakers will also be strictly liable when dogs attack victims in other ways. This means that an owner or caretaker of a dog in Myrtle Beach will also be strictly liable when dogs cause people to fall or when the dogs jump and injure people.
In the state, dog owners must keep their pets from running at large. The pets must be restrained with a fence or a leash so that the dogs are unable to reach people who are passing by the owner’s property.
How to prove liability when you have been bitten by a dog
To hold a dog owner liable after you have been bitten, you will need to prove that the dog bit or otherwise attacked you. You will not need to prove that the owner or caretaker knew that the dog was dangerous before you were attacked. However, there are some exceptions to the law.
Exceptions to liability
A dog owner or caretaker will not be liable to pay damages to the victim of a dog attack in cases in which the victim provoked the animal. Provocation might include teasing or abusing the dog when it leads to the attack. Dog owners will also not be liable when their dogs bite trespassers on their properties. However, people who have a duty to perform that involves them having to enter the property are not considered to be trespassers.
Liability will also not apply when the dog that bites you was a canine unit working for a police agency and the bite occurred while the dog was complying with the officer’s commands. As long as a police dog meets the certification and training standards of South Carolina, liability will not apply. Finally, you will not be able to recover compensation when you file your lawsuit outside of the limitations period.
What is the statute of limitations?
South Carolina has a statute of limitations of three years that applies when you were injured in a dog attack. In order to recover damages, you must file your lawsuit within that time period. If you file a lawsuit outside of the limitations period, it will be time-barred and will be dismissed by the court. Getting prompt help from an experienced lawyer at The Lovely Law Firm can help you to preserve your rights.
Reporting dog bites
If you want to file a lawsuit to recover damages for your losses, the amount that you might recover will depend on the extent and severity of your injuries. Under South Carolina law, health care providers are required to report dogs that have bitten people to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control or DHEC. If you are a parent whose child is bitten, and you do not seek medical treatment, you must report the incident to the DHEC by the close of the next business day.
You should also call the police to report the dog to an animal control officer. An animal control officer will take your report and may take the dog into quarantine to make certain that it does not have rabies.
Some breeds of dogs are known to have a greater propensity to attack such as a pitbull or a rottweiler. However, all dogs can bite. You shouldn’t think that just because a dog is small that it is not potentially dangerous. If you encounter a pitbull or another type of dog when you are in public, you should back away slowly or remain still. You should never turn your back and try to outrun a dog. If a dog attacks you, get into a fetal position and protect your face and head with your hands and arms.
Why dog bites are serious
Dog bites can be very serious. Dogs have a lot of bacteria in their mouths, which can cause serious infections when people are bitten. People can also suffer permanent scarring and disfigurement that requires plastic surgery. Some people are killed in dog attacks in the U.S. every year.
If you do file a lawsuit, you might be able to recover the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical costs, including plastic surgery
- Income losses, including future losses in the case of incapacitation
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Property losses
- Loss of consortium damages for spouses
- Funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death claims
Many homeowners’ insurance policies cover the expenses that are associated with a dog bite. Typically, liability policies may cover up to $300,000 in losses. Some companies do not cover breeds that are considered to be vicious. If the dog’s owner has insurance, the company will likely pay for his or her defense and will be responsible for paying a judgment or settlement that you win.
Your attorney will help you to gather all of the relevant evidence that you will need. The attorney might need your medical records, the dates of your appointments, your lost income information, and others. The attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm are available to help you with your injury or wrongful death claim. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn about your rights when you have suffered a dog bite injury. We serve many areas across South Carolina including dog bite lawyers in Myrtle Beach and dog bite lawyers in Murrells Inlet.
What our Dog Bite Claim Clients have to say on Google:
My husband and I choose The Lovely Law Firm to represent us in a dog bite injury. We had talked with another firm in the area and were shocked as to how unprofessional they were. I looked for reviews of law firms and immediately realized that The Lovely Law Firm had wonderful reviews. First, the first consultation to the final settlement The Lovely Law firm was so professional and compassionate. They handled everything and all I had to do was go to my appointments to treat my wounds and heal. They fought for me and got me a settlement that was far more than my husband and I anticipated. We highly recommend this Law Firm for all your legal concerns. The Lovely Law Firm will be handling any legal issue we have in the future. Thank you to all the staff, you are wonderful!!!