Any dog, no matter how well-trained and well-behaved, may suddenly bite or attack an innocent person without warning. When you have been injured by someone else’s dog, you should not have to bear the costs of your recovery. A Summerville dog bite lawyer can help you seek compensation for your financial and personal losses from the dog’s owner and their insurance company.
At Joye Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys have advocated for the rights and interests of injured victims in Summerville and throughout South Carolina for more than 50 years. In that time, we have achieved significant results for our clients. Our legal team has the experience and resources to pursue a full financial recovery for you, no matter the complexities of your case.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite or attack, don’t wait to discuss your legal options with
an experienced Summerville dog bite lawyer. Contact us today for a free initial case review and learn what steps you can take to pursue the financial recovery you deserve.
South Carolina Dog Bite Law
South Carolina is considered a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bite claims. This means that a person injured by someone else’s dog does not need to prove that the dog’s owner acted carelessly in order to recover compensation. A dog owner may be held liable for the injuries inflicted by their dog when:
- The dog bites or attacks someone
- The victim was in public or lawfully in a private area
- The dog was not provoked by the injured person prior to the bite or attack
South Carolina’s dog bite law also covers injuries that occur when the victim is attacked or knocked down by a dog. For example, if you are injured by being knocked over by a charging dog that pounces on you, South Carolina’s dog bite law also allows you to pursue financial recovery from the dog’s owner, even if you were not bitten during the attack.
Under South Carolina’s dog bite law, a dog owner may have a defense against an injury claim if they can show that the injured victim provoked the dog into biting or attacking the victim or that the injured victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property when they were bitten or attacked by the dog.
South Carolina’s strict liability dog bite law differs from many other states. Many other states follow the “one bite rule,” which requires a person injured by a dog bite or attack to prove that the dog’s owner knew or had reason to know of their dog’s vicious or aggressive tendencies.
Some other states also apply traditional negligence rules, which require an injured dog bite victim to show that the dog owner failed to exercise reasonable care in handling their dog (for example, by ensuring that the dog was confined on the owner’s property by a secure fence).
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims in South Carolina
If you were injured by a dog bite or attack, you typically have three years from the date of the bite or attack to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that injured you. Under limited circumstances, the time allowed to file a dog bite claim may be extended.
For example, a child who is injured by a dog bite may have one year from the date they turn 18 to file a lawsuit for their injuries. A Summerville dog bite injuries lawyer from Joye Law Firm can review your case and help you determine how long you may have before you must file a lawsuit.
If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run on your dog bite injury claim, you risk having your court case dismissed as untimely and losing the opportunity to demand financial recovery for your injury from the dog’s owner and their insurer.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dogs can inflict serious or even potentially life-threatening injuries. The risk of serious dog bite injuries increases with larger breeds that can exert significant bite force. Or, when a dog attacks a small child whose vulnerable head and neck are within reach of the dog’s mouth.
Common examples of serious injuries that victims may suffer in dog bites and attacks include:
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Ligament, tendon, and muscle injuries and tears
- Nerve damage
- Eye injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Face injuries
- Permanent scarring
- Infections, including viral infections such as rabies, or bacterial infections from staphylococcus, streptococcus, and Pasteurella
- Emotional injury, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, or a newly developed phobia of dogs
Average Dog Bite Settlements
The average dog bite settlement can vary depending on the severity of the injuries the victim suffers and other factors. Minor injuries may result in less substantial recoveries. However, when dog bites result in serious or potentially life-threatening injuries and complications, a dog bite settlement can result in more significant compensation in order to help pay for the years of medical expenses and other financial and personal losses caused by the dog bite or attack.
A dog bite settlement should provide you with compensation for all the expenses and losses that you have incurred because of your injuries. This includes not only financial loss but also personal and emotional harm that you have suffered. A fair and full settlement can compensate you for:
- Medical treatment, including emergency care, surgeries, and other medical procedures, prescriptions, physical therapy, occupational therapy, doctors’ appointments, and mental health treatment for emotional trauma suffered from the attack
- Loss of wages or income due to missed time from work during the recovery period, or loss of future earning ability if injuries result in a permanent disability that impacts your ability to do your job
- Physical pain experienced due to your injuries and subsequent medical treatment
- Emotional suffering, including depression, anxiety, or PTSD
- Lost enjoyment and quality of life due to physical disability or visible scarring and disfigurement from your injuries
What to Do After a Dog Bite
Following a dog bite or attack, there are a few simple but crucial things you can do to protect your legal rights and interests. Taking the following steps can help you protect your legal rights and the value of your claim:
- Locate the dog’s owner and notify them of your injuries. Make sure to get the owner’s contact information, as well as their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance information if they have a policy. Local animal control authorities may be able to help you track down the dog’s owner if you were attacked by a dog on the loose.
- Obtain contact information of any eyewitnesses who may have witnessed the bite or attack.
- Use your cell phone to take photos and videos of the scene of the bite or attack, including relevant details such as a broken fence or open gate that the dog escaped through.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you have an open wound. A doctor can diagnose internal injuries you may have sustained from the bite, such as a broken bone or tendon damage. If the dog’s bite broke your skin, you should have the wound disinfected by a medical professional, who can also prescribe you medications to prevent infections from diseases such as rabies if you do not know the dog’s vaccination status.
- Report the attack to the animal control authorities. They may choose to track down and quarantine the dog if the dog’s vaccination status is unknown or if records show the dog has attacked other people in the past.
- Keep copies of bills, invoices, and income records to help document your expenses and lost wages.
- Keep a journal to document the pain you experience due to your injuries and how they adversely affect your daily life.
Finally, speak with one of our Summerville dog bite lawyers at Joye Law Firm to discuss your options for seeking financial recovery in your case.
Connect with Our Lawyers Today to Get the Legal Help You Need After a Dog Bite
If you’ve been injured by a bite or an attack that was inflicted by somebody else’s dog, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the expenses and losses you’ve incurred due to your injuries.
Our firm works hard to help our neighbors across South Carolina. We have offices in Summerville, North Charleston, Columbia, Clinton, and Myrtle Beach and serve injured people throughout the state. We also give back through our Joye in the Community initiative, which sponsors numerous charitable organizations and an annual scholarship program.
Don’t wait to begin the process of seeking the financial recovery you need to move forward. Call Joye Law Firm today at 888-324-3100 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation to see what we can do to help you recover from a traumatic dog bite injury.