The Basics of Dog Bite Law

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South Carolina is a state full of animals and animal lovers, but sometimes, animals can get out of control. If your pet causes harm to someone, you may wind up being liable for that person’s injuries, and your pet may face even worse consequences. It is in your best interest to learn the laws your pet is subject to, so you can safeguard them – and your wallet – in the future.

Strict Liability For Bites

In South Carolina, the owner of a domestic animal that bites or attacks someone is strictly liable for that person’s injuries. Strict liability means that unlike in a traditional negligence case, the existence of a duty, and the breach of that duty, have already been proved by the mere fact the action happened.

In standard negligence cases, four criteria must be proved by the plaintiff in order to establish that the defendant is liable for their injuries: (1) The existence of a duty of care the defendant owed to the plaintiff; (2) The breach of that duty; (3) A showing that the breach was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) Tangible damages. The plaintiff need not have suffered physical injury for this to be proven, but it is often simpler to show, especially in dog bite cases. In strict liability cases, the first two steps are taken as proven by law. The plaintiff need only show that the third and fourth are true.

Aftermath of A Bite

If you or a loved one is bitten by an animal, the first thing to do is to get the information for the animal’s owner, even before you have the injury seen to. Without that information, it may be impossible to know who to bring suit against or who to hold liable. It can also be helpful because South Carolina law mandates all domestic cats and dogs be vaccinated against rabies, and the pet’s information is kept on record for a period of time.

It is imperative to establish clear evidence that you were indeed bitten, and you were bitten in a public place (or while lawfully in a private place). While owners are indeed strictly liable for their pet’s bites or attacks, this is not so if the plaintiff was (1) engaged in trespassing, (2) the target of a dog working with law enforcement, or (3) if they provoked the animal to attack, according to Sec. 47-3-110. Since an owner will be strictly liable for your injuries unless one of the three conditions apply, it makes sense to focus one’s evidence-gathering on items or pictures that prove you were bitten in a way that conforms to the liability statute.

A Good Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions

If a dog has bitten you, you may be confused about how to proceed in terms of seeking compensation for your injuries. A competent legal professional can answer any questions you may have, and be able to guide you toward the best possible result for you and your family. The experienced North Charleston dog bite attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse understand that your first priority is to get your life back to normal, and we will do our very best to help. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.