Commonly referred to as “man’s best friend,” dogs can be vicious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites happen annually in the United States. Children are the most vulnerable to dog bite attacks. With over 75 million dogs in the United States, it’s not shocking that dog bites are among the most common reasons for children visiting the emergency room.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries from a dog bite or attack in South Carolina, you may file a claim for damages against the dog’s owner or keeper. Our South Carolina dog bite attorneys can help outline what you’re entitled to in the event of a dog attack.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about South Carolina dog bite laws.
Understanding the South Carolina Dog Bite Law
There are generally two distinct kinds of dog bite regulations.
The “One Bite Rule” states that a dog’s owner will not be held responsible for the dogs first biting incident. They are not liable for medical bills or other damages because they had no way of knowing their dog was harmful.
The “One Bite Rule” was in effect in South Carolina. However, they changed the legislation to create a “strict responsibility” for dog bites. This means that the owner is responsible for the damages when a dog bites someone, even if the owner did nothing wrong.
South Carolina’s dog bite statute can be found in Title 47, Chapter 3 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. The property owner is responsible for any injuries sustained by anyone who is lawfully present in a private space and suffers an attack. The dog’s owner is liable for damages if the victim is not to blame for provoking the animal.
A fine of up to $6,000 and three years in jail can be levied on responsible owners for first offenses. The owner can receive a fine of $10,000 and up to five years in jail for subsequent offenses.
The potential civil monetary costs are not included in these fines, and punishment can be stiffer if the victim dies.
Related Laws on South Carolina Dog Bites
Depending on the severity of the attack assault, the offender may be subject to related charges. A dog should never be allowed to roam free without its owner’s supervision.
The owner is responsible for always keeping their dangerous dog under control. Warning signs should be placed near any enclosure where dangerous animals are kept.
The owner must register each dangerous animal with the Department of Natural Resources. Doing so expedites return if the pet escapes.
Dog owners are required to carry liability insurance in case their pet causes injury to a third party. The police must cover at least $50,000 worth of damages.
Anyone assaulted by a dog has the right to defend themselves with reasonable force. The animal may be struck or confined. The victim is not responsible for any costs associated with the animal’s controlling or restraining.
Dog attacks can refer to a wide variety of incidents. Victims of dog attacks where the animal jumped or pounced on them have successfully held owners responsible for their damages. Responsibility can be established even if no bite is made.
Possible Defenses to South Carolina Dog Bite Injury Claims
Victims have more protection under the law, but property owners still have some defenses. Faced with a dog bite claim, South Carolina dog owners may raise various defenses, including provocation and trespassing.
The dog’s owner is not liable if the victim provoked the animal. There are various ways a victim could provoke a dog. They can physically harm the dog by touching it in a way that makes it feel threatened or tease it verbally.
People can also harass a dog by taking away its puppies, food, or water. There is a risk that the dog will become more aggressive because of such harassment.
When someone is injured while trespassing, the property owner is not responsible for the dog bit injury. However, this defense doesn’t apply to people performing a legal obligation, such as letter delivery.
The owner is usually liable for any damages. A caretaker assumes no responsibility for the dog’s actions while in their care once the owner has dropped it off at their house. Only when they take on the obligation of caring for a dog for the long term will they be held liable.
Statute of Limitations
Dog bite victims in South Carolina have three years from the date of their injuries to launch a civil case against the dog’s owner. This time limit is governed by the South Carolina statute of limitations, which applies to all personal injury claims filed in the state.
The court will most likely dismiss the case without even reviewing it if the lawsuit is filed more than three years after the incident. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to learn about and adhere to the relevant statute of limitations.
Do You Have the Legal Grounds to Sue?
Although there are millions of reported dog bites annually, only a fraction of those result in lawsuits. Ensure to call the dog’s owner and request insurance details after a dog bite. Even if you think the bite is mild, you should see a doctor immediately.
Remember to record every detail of the attack. Document the attack and your injuries with photographs. Gather statements from anybody who saw the attack, including emergency personnel.
Please get in touch with a seasoned personal injury lawyer in Greenwood immediately if a dog has bitten you or someone you know. Turn over all necessary paperwork, especially any medical records. There may be legal recourse available to you if your injuries were severe or if you spent a significant amount of time in the hospital.
When someone is bitten by a dog, they can file a personal injury lawsuit. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, who must show the defendant owed them some duty of care. They must also prove that a breach of the duty of care caused injuries and damages.
If your dog but someone, please consult an attorney immediately. Plaintiffs fare quite well in civil trials, and dog bite victims benefit from statutes that are very liberal. You’re in a defensive position and will benefit from the legal counsel of an experienced attorney.
Call Ayers Smithdeal and Bettis PC today at (855) 213-4405 for more details about dog bite laws in South Carolina.