dog with owner

Every year, dog attacks injure and kill South Carolina residents. In 2023, a 65-year-old man was killed by two dogs that lunged from a neighbor’s porch in Moncks Corner, and in 2020, a 32-year-old woman died in Laurens County after being attacked by three vicious dogs that escaped their owner’s yard.

When a dog bite attack occurs, the state holds the owners responsible for any injury the animal causes to someone who was not provoking or harassing the canine. Statute 47-3-710 makes an owner accountable for a dog identified as a dangerous animal, which is known to attack or to be likely to attack people unprovoked.

If a dog in South Carolina has attacked you, Joye Law Firm’s lawyers want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our dog bite lawyers for a complimentary case evaluation and guidance on your legal rights.

Dog Owner Liability in South Carolina

Knowing your rights after a dog attack can help you get the compensation you deserve. Here’s a breakdown of South Carolina laws regarding liability for dog bites:

  • Strict Liability for Owners: The law in South Carolina makes dog owners liable for any harm caused by the animal, if the victim is in a public place or lawfully on the property of the dog owner. One exception is if the victim attacked or provoked the dog before the accident.
  • Dangerous Animal Liability: Owners are also liable for damages caused by a dangerous animal. Dangerous animals include dogs that have shown aggression or have attacked humans or domestic animals unprovoked. It is not based on breed or species.
  • Strict Confinement Rules: Owners must securely confine dangerous animals on their property. This can include keeping them indoors or secured in an enclosed fence or locked pen. Failure to do so may result in liability if the animal attacks someone.
  • Responsibility for Damages: Owners face fines, criminal charges, and imprisonment if their dangerous animal injures a person or another domestic animal. They can also be held liable in a civil lawsuit for all damages to the dog bite victim, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Insurance and Registration Requirements: Owners of dangerous animals must register their pets with local authorities and have liability insurance that covers possible harm to others. The dog must always wear a metal tag, identifying it as a dangerous animal.
  • Liability Exceptions: Owners are not liable for attacks by animals used for agricultural purposes or if the animal attacks a trespasser or someone believed to be trespassing.

Does South Carolina Have a “One-Bite” Rule?

The one-bite rule is a legal principle that states that a dog owner is not held liable for the first bite or attack by their dog, as long as they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous or had a tendency to bite.

South Carolina does not follow this rule for dog bite cases. Under strict liability, you can hold a dog owner responsible for your injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether it previously exhibited dangerous behavior.

This makes it easier to seek compensation, since you don’t have to prove the dog’s previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of aggressive tendencies.

Compensation for Dog Bite Victims

If you have been bitten, mauled, or otherwise attacked by a dangerous dog, the lawyers at Joye Law Firm can help you receive compensation. We can investigate the incident, calculate your losses, and determine what compensation to pursue on your behalf. Possible damages can include:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers all expenses related to the medical care needed because of your injury. It includes visits to the emergency room, hospital stays, medications, and medical procedures. It also accounts for your long-term care costs like physical therapy, rehabilitation, and any future surgeries required due to the attack.
  • Lost Wages: Taking time off work to heal from your injuries may lead to a loss of income. Our team can assist you in securing compensation for lost wages, salary, or other earnings while you recover. If your injuries result in reduced earning potential or permanent disability, we can also pursue compensation for future earnings losses.
  • Pain and Suffering: This covers the non-economic damages associated with the injury, including physical pain, emotional distress, and impact on your quality of life. Pain and suffering damages are based on the severity of your injuries and long-term effects on daily life and well-being.
  • Punitive Damages: If a known dangerous animal, either registered or identified as such, was permitted to roam freely, we can work toward obtaining punitive damages for you as additional compensation.

While every case is different, our firm’s past results demonstrate our ability to successfully handle animal attack cases and deliver justice to victims of these incidents. These are just a few of the notable settlements achieved by our team:

  • $425,000 for a person who suffered multiple fractures after being attacked by a dog on a neighbor’s property.
  • $300,000 settlement for Charleston girl bitten by roaming dog in her front yard.
  • $505,000 settlement for a person who suffered multiple injuries after being attacked by three dogs in Fairfield County.
  • $100,000 settlement for a delivery driver attacked by a dog who broke through a fence in Colleton County.

View more of our firm’s settlements and verdicts.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Incident

Knowing what to do after a dog bite attack can protect you from worsening injuries and safeguard your legal rights. Take the following steps if you suffer a dog bite or animal attack in South Carolina:

  • Get Medical Attention: Seek medical attention immediately following a dog bite to address injuries. These can range from minor scratches to serious wounds and infections, including Capnocytophaga, a potentially fatal bacterial infection. Quick medical intervention ensures immediate health issues are addressed and offers crucial documentation for legal proceedings or insurance claims.
  • Contact Animal Control: Report the incident to animal control or the local police to ensure the dog is evaluated for diseases and to help prevent future attacks. This creates an official report that supports your claim.
  • Gather Evidence: Record the event by capturing photos of your injuries, the location where the attack occurred, and any present or absent warning signs regarding the dog. Preserve any clothing or property that was damaged during the attack. This evidence will bolster your case by providing a clear record of the event and the extent of your injuries.
  • Obtain the Owner’s Information: Get contact information from the dog’s owner and witnesses. This is essential for identifying the responsible party and for insurance or legal communication.
  • File a Claim With Insurance: Submit an insurance claim through the dog owner’s and/or your own homeowner’s insurance. Ensure you supply all collected evidence and documentation to facilitate smooth and efficient processing of your claim.
  • Speak With an Attorney: Seek advice from a lawyer with experience handling dog bite cases to understand your legal rights and potential compensation. An attorney from Joye Law Firm can navigate you through the legal system, handle negotiations with insurance companies, and ensure you receive a fair settlement.

Contact Our South Carolina Dangerous Dog Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been hurt by a serious bite, attack, or mauling from a dangerous dog, you may be eligible for compensation for your losses and your pain and suffering.

Obtaining compensation from the animal owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy is not easy. Insurance carriers often resist paying out these claims adequately. At Joye Law Firm, every client benefits from the extensive legal expertise of our attorneys’ over 300 years of combined experience. With offices conveniently located across South Carolina, we are dedicated to serving our clients’ needs, and consultations are always provided at no cost.

Our South Carolina dog bite lawyers can investigate the circumstances of your injury and help you pursue any compensation you are due. Complete our online contact form to set up a free review of your case today.