Columbia, SC Dog Bites

Being attacked by a dog can leave lasting physical and emotional injuries. Dog bites can leave deep cuts, torn muscles, and disfiguring scars that require cosmetic surgery to repair. The terror inflicted by a ferocious, biting dog can create psychological trauma that requires years of counseling to address.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a dog bite or mauling attack in the Columbia, SC area, you should speak to an experienced dog bite attorney. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and other costs and losses through a claim against the dog’s owner’s insurance policy.

Our Columbia dog bite lawyers at the Joye Law Firm can put our experience to work for you. We have helped others in Columbia and throughout the Midlands obtain compensation after a dog owner’s carelessness or disregard for others’ safety led to a dog attack. The attorneys at Joye Law Firm have been representing injured people in South Carolina since 1968. We care about the people we represent, and are gratified by the many positive Google reviews we have received from former clients.

Contact Our Columbia Dog Bite Lawyers Today

The personal injury lawyers of the Joye Law Firm have over 300 years of combined experience, and know how to successfully secure compensation for dog bite victims and others across South Carolina injured because of someone else’s negligence.

If you have suffered a dog-related injury in Columbia, Richland County, or elsewhere in the Midlands, we suggest you seek proper medical care and then contact us to discuss your legal rights. We can determine whether you have a valid injury claim and advise you of the appropriate next steps to take.

Under South Carolina law, you have a right to compensation if you were seriously injured through no fault of your own. Let us explain how we can assist. Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or fill out our online contact form today.

Common Dog Bite Injuries in Columbia

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog requires medical attention. Young children and elderly adults are more likely to be seriously injured in a dog attack because of their relative frailty and inability to escape. However, as the CDC points out, any dog can bite anyone.

Dogs, even small ones, can be capable of causing serious injury. In addition to pain, dog bites can cause nerve injury or injury to vital organs. Bite injuries also run the risk of becoming infected, putting the bite victim at risk of illness or, in rare cases, death.

Common injuries suffered in a dog attack include:

  • Scrapes and bruises
  • Facial injuries
  • Hand injuries from trying to defend
  • Cuts and lacerations, particularly puncture wounds
  • Torn skin or muscle
  • Broken bones
  • Dislocations, such as a dislocated shoulder caused by a dog grabbing and jerking the victim’s arm
  • Crushing injuries, particularly to the heads and extremities of small children
  • Head injuries from falling during an attack
  • Psychological conditions including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Dog bites can also spread germs to people including bacterial infections and diseases. These may include:

  • Rabies: This is a virus that affects the brain, and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. It is increasingly rare in dogs, but still exists in dogs not properly cared for.
  • Tetanus: This is a bacterial infection that causes rigid paralysis.
  • MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): This is a staph infection that can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections. In some people, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.
  • Pasteurella: This is a type of bacteria seen in over half of infected dog bite wounds. It causes a painful, red infection at the site of the bite. It can also cause more serious diseases in people with weakened immune systems.

Further, the shock of being attacked and injured by a dog can cause damaging psychological reactions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some dog bite victims who have been mauled or otherwise seriously injured require counseling to resume their normal lives, sometimes for years after physical injuries have healed.

Columbia Dog Owners Have Legal Responsibilities

South Carolina dog owners can be held legally responsible for what their pets or working dogs do. This includes accountability for any injury their animal inflicts upon any person who did not first provoke the dog.

A dog owner in South Carolina is required to register and confine a dog known to have attacked or to be likely to attack people without being provoked. South Carolina law (SC Code Section 47-3-10) declares that such an animal is a “vicious dog.”

What is “A Vicious Dog?”

South Carolina state law says a vicious dog is one that:

  • Makes an unprovoked attack that causes bodily injury to a human being outside a pen or secured area
  • Whose owner knows, or reasonably should know, has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked
  • Commits unprovoked acts (barking, growling, snarling, lunging) that would cause a person to reasonably believe that the animal will attack and cause bodily injury

South Carolina criminal law also specifies a series of penalties for the owner of a dog that has attacked and injured a person or another domestic animal. South Carolina civil law allows those who have been injured by dangerous dogs to demand compensation for their losses from the dog’s owner.

Strict Liability

South Carolina operates under a “strict liability” statute that holds dog owners responsible for dog bites, regardless of whether their dog has a history of aggression or not. In other words, the owner may be held liable for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses, without the need to prove the dog’s prior dangerous behavior.

In contrast, some other states operate under the “one bite rule.”  The one bite rule says that dog owners are only liable if they knew or should have known their dog was dangerous. This means the owner gets “one free bite” without liability. After that first bite, the owner is considered negligent if their dog bites again. Victims have a harder time seeking damages under one bite rule laws, which give owners more leniency until a pattern of dangerous behavior emerges. Fortunately, South Carolina’s strict liability laws put full responsibility on owners to control their dogs.


It should be understood that a dog owner cannot be held responsible if the person whom the dog attacked provoked or harassed the dog, causing the dog to attack. However, this may not apply to a young child or mentally challenged victim who is shown to have been incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions.

The liability rules do not apply to dogs working with law enforcement or other government agencies if the police dog’s actions were within the agency’s mandate and regulations and do not constitute excessive force.

Immediate Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

A dog bite can be a traumatic and unexpected event that leaves you in pain, shock, and uncertainty. That’s why it’s essential to know what steps to take right after a dog bite to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety should be the top priority. For relatively minor wounds, wash thoroughly with soap and warm water to reduce the risk of infection. Apply an antiseptic and cover the wound with a clean cloth or bandage. If the bite is severe, deep, or bleeding heavily, seek immediate medical attention from a healthcare professional. Even seemingly minor bites can lead to serious infections and complications, so don’t delay seeking treatment.
  2. Identify the Dog and Owner: Try to identify the dog that bit you and its owner, if possible. Note the dog’s breed, size, color, and any distinctive markings. Ask the owner for their contact information and inquire about the dog’s vaccination status. This information may be crucial for medical treatment and legal purposes.
  3. Report the Incident: Contact your local animal control or law enforcement agency to report the dog bite incident. They can document the incident, track the dog’s vaccination records, and take appropriate action to prevent future incidents. Reporting the incident can also help protect others from potential harm.
  4. Gather Evidence: If it’s safe to do so, take photos of your injuries, the location where the bite occurred, and any visible signs of the dog’s aggression, such as a broken leash or an unsecured yard. Collect contact information from any witnesses who can provide an account of the incident.
  5. Preserve Clothing and Documentation: If your clothing was torn or damaged during the attack, preserve it as evidence. Don’t wash or alter it, as it may be needed for legal proceedings. Keep any medical records, bills, and documents related to the dog bite in a safe place.
  6. Follow Medical Advice: Adhere to the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider. Attend follow-up appointments and take prescribed medications as directed. Proper medical care not only ensures your recovery but also establishes a record of your injuries.
  7. Contact an Attorney: Consider consulting an experienced dog bite attorney. They can help you explore your rights and options for seeking compensation.

Compensation You May Recover in a Columbia Dog Bite Injury Claim

A dog bite victim in Columbia or elsewhere in South Carolina may have the right to file a civil lawsuit for compensation from the dog’s owner. This money typically comes from homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, or, in cases involving a business’s “working” dog, from business liability insurance or a surety bond.

Money to pay damages rarely comes out of the dog owner’s pocket. Victims should not shy away from a claim over the fear of causing financial harm to a neighbor, friend, relative, or friendly business owner.

The Insurance Information Institute says homeowners’ insurance policies paid out over $1.136 billion in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2022. Dog bite injury claims are real and valid.

Dog bite lawsuits in Columbia may seek compensation for:

  • All medical expenses, which may include:
    • Emergency medical care and hospitalization
    • Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
    • Surgery, including cosmetic surgery to address disfiguring scarring caused by a dog attack
    • Rehabilitation, which may include physical, vocational, and/or occupational therapy
    • Psychological counseling for emotional trauma
  • Lost wages while you are unable to work
  • Future lost income if you cannot return to work or have diminished earning capacity because of the dog attack
  • Property damage (torn clothing, broken wristwatch, jewelry, eyeglasses, etc.)
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering, including emotional pain and loss of enjoyment of life

Most dog bite claims are resolved through settlements with the insurance company. Joye Law Firm will fight to ensure your claim accounts for all of your recoverable costs and losses by undergoing a thorough investigation and collecting crucial evidence that supports your claim. Insurance companies try to pay out as little as possible for dog bite claims. Our injury attorneys are experienced and aggressive negotiators who will press for maximum compensation for you.

Our attorneys have handled many severe animal attack cases in Columbia including a recent settlement for $500,000. The victim suffered multiple bite wounds after being attacked by three dogs in Fairfield County. Through skillful negotiation, our firm was able to procure the full homeowner policy limits from the dogs’ owner.

If the insurance company refuses to do the right thing and your case must go to trial, we will be fully prepared to present a convincing case to a jury in Richland County or any other county in the Midlands on your behalf.

In every case, we start by providing a free, no-obligation case review. If a bite by someone else’s dog has cost you medical bills, lost income, pain, suffering, and other losses, we can assess the potential for you to pursue a dog bite injury claim. We will not charge you for that meeting.

We also work on a contingency fee basis, which means that unless you win your case, you don’t pay any attorney’s fees. This arrangement aligns our interests with yours, as we are only compensated if we achieve a positive outcome for you. If you do win your case, the attorney’s fees will be paid using a percentage of the settlement or judgment. You can move forward with confidence, knowing that you don’t pay unless you win.

Contact Our Columbia Dog Bite Law Firm Today

The personal injury lawyers of the Joye Law Firm have more than 300 years of combined experience successfully securing compensation for both dog bite victims and others across South Carolina injured because of someone else’s negligence. For many years, Joye Law Firm attorneys have been recognized with a coveted AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the premier legal rating directory.

If you have suffered a dog-related injury in Columbia, Richland County, or elsewhere in the Midlands, we suggest you seek proper medical care and then contact us to discuss your legal rights. We can determine whether you have a valid injury claim and advise you of the appropriate next steps to take. If the Joye Law Firm represents you, we will work on a contingency fee basis. You will not owe us legal fees unless we obtain compensation for you through an out-of-court settlement or jury award.

You have a right to compensation if you were seriously injured through no fault of your own. Let us explain how we can assist. Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or fill out our online contact form today.

Joye Law Firm Columbia Office Location

1333 Main St #260,
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 618-4189