Charleston Dog Bite Attorney
An attack by a ‘domesticated animal’ may have been the last thing you expected. But with 1 out of 50 Americans sustaining a dog bite each year (totaling 4.7 million people annually), you could unwittingly become 1 of the 914 victims sent to the ER with dog bite injuries on any given day.
Medical attention comes first, and your next best step is to connect with a Charleston dog bite attorney who will ensure your rights are protected and that all the right boxes are checked toward building a solid case. Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers are highly familiar with Charleston animal regulations and dog bite laws, and we have a formidable success record of getting our clients the compensation to which they were entitled.
At times, insurance adjusters will demonstrate bad faith in handling your claim, an occurrence that could prompt our pursuing a civil court case instead of a settlement. Examples of this deceptive treatment might be: a) purposely stalling the progress of the investigation, b) requesting excessive or irrelevant documentation from you, c) changing an adjuster midstream, d) attempting cancellation of their policy, etc.
Is a Dog’s Life Really That Easy?
Over 36% of households in the United States include at least one dog. It’s been proven that dogs help to increase our exercise levels, decrease stress and provide delightful playmates for our families. Sometimes it’s even hard to remember that they have adapted to us and not the other way around.
However, we need to remember that while our domesticated canines appear to enjoy more naps and general loafing, their thinly-veiled lack of interest can quickly switch over to their animal instincts.
Notice how a dog is strikingly similar to a human infant in how they pay attention to us. Your dog may be so closely attuned to you that they will ‘read’ something as subtle as a change in your eye direction. This may be a source of pride for you, but it should also forewarn how quickly a dog’s reaction can change from submissive to forcefully aggressive. If another person’s dog decides to bite or attack you, it won’t decrease your stress! Instead, you may be hurt, in pain, and getting expensive medical care for your wounds.
Charleston Dog Bite Prevention for Non-Owners
Remaining confident is a good thing; however, you’ll also want to maintain cautious body language because the wrong attitude can provoke an attack.
- Refrain from approaching an unfamiliar animal.
- Do not approach a dog without its owner or handler present.
- Don’t run away from a dog; showing panic will incite them.
- Avoid eye contact and remain calm. Stay motionless.
- Do not disturb a dog while sleeping, eating, or protecting their young.
- If a dog is injured or sick, do not approach them.
- Let the dog smell your hand before petting, then scratch under the chin.
- Teach your children to always ask the owner’s permission before approaching someone else’s dog, and be sure to lead by example.
- Steer clear if the dog is barking or growling at you.
- Report strays and strange behaviors to the local animal control.
Charleston Dog Owners Can Curb Bad Behavior
Spaying or neutering dogs has been proven to lessen a dog’s dominance-related behaviors, such as barking, aggression, biting, and mounting. If you’re having trouble affording the procedure, look into low-cost spay/neuter programs in Charleston.
Socialization is a significant factor in reducing your dog’s apprehension around strangers and other animals. Many parks and local veterinarians sponsor these classes for low fees. If you know your dog is socially anxious, be careful when you start socialization classes. Keep your dog on a leash so you can pull them back if they show aggression toward another dog or person.
Don’t bring your dog’s favorite toy, treats, or human food to the dog park, as this may trigger territorial aggression.
A dog on a leash will react defensively when approached by unleashed dogs; follow suit at the dog park and unleash your dog.
Be aware that dog attacks in Charleston fall under ‘strict liability,’ i.e., the victim does not have to prove the owner was negligent. The ‘One Bite’ Law is not in effect in South Carolina, so first-time offenders have no ‘free pass.’ The only exception is proving that the victim intentionally provoked your dog.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week® takes place during the second full week of April each year and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
Here are the steps to take to help protect your legal rights after being attacked by a dog:
- If the owner seems to be around, ask for their name, insurance info, and contact info. Also, inquire about the dog’s vaccination status, as you may need to know when seeing a doctor. If there are other witnesses to the attack, try to get their contact info.
- If the dog owner hasn’t come forward, ask anyone around if they know who the dog belongs to.
- Take pictures of your wounds, then seek medical attention, even if you don’t think your injuries are that serious. Getting a bite properly cleaned can help reduce the risk of infection and other complications. You may also need stitches or X-rays. If you can’t confirm the dog’s vaccination status or were unable to locate the owner, you may need to get a rabies vaccination.
- Report the bite to the SCDHEC or your local DHEC Environmental Health Services Office so they can record the attack and investigate as needed.
- Contact a Charleston dog bite attorney right away for help seeking compensation for your injuries.
Making a Dog Bite Injury Claim
There are three important things you will need to be able to prove for your dog bite claim:
- You were legally on the property where the dog bite occurred – in other words, you were not trespassing. This includes being on the property if it is necessary for your work, even if you did not have the owner’s explicit invitation. For example, if you deliver mail or packages and a dog bites you, the owner can’t claim that you were trespassing on their property.
- Your injuries were caused by the dog bite or attack. If the dog injured you, you have a valid claim, even if you weren’t bitten. For example, a large dog may enthusiastically jump up on a person and knock them down. If you fall and break your wrist due to this dog’s enthusiasm, you may have a potential claim.
- You did not provoke the dog. Provocation can include physical or verbal abuse, such as yelling at or taunting the dog.
In most cases, we will start by filing a claim with the dog owner’s home insurance policy. However, there are several possible hangups:
- The dog’s owner does not have homeowner’s insurance.
- The owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover dog bites or doesn’t cover this particular situation. This can vary depending on the policy, but in some cases, we find the injury victim has a valid claim, yet the insurance company denies it anyway. Often a phone call from an attorney helps remind the insurance adjuster of their responsibilities as stated in the policy. In some cases, it becomes necessary to sue the insurance carrier.
- The dog’s owner claims it wasn’t their dog who bit you but some other, similar-looking dog.
- The dog’s owner says you provoked the dog.
- The owner or their insurance carrier claim your injuries were caused by something other than the dog attack.
- The insurance company denies your claim, usually for the above reasons. They may also stall or bury you in paperwork.
- You can’t locate the dog or its owner.
Depending on your particular situation, we will handle the issues with your claim differently. In many cases, a thorough investigation turns up more witnesses and sometimes even video evidence that is useful in your case. Once we’ve built a strong case, we’ll address the other party’s claims. If the owner or the insurance carrier says that you provoked the dog or received injuries in some other way, we will explain the evidence to the contrary, including statements from witnesses to the attack. In many cases, this helps encourage the insurance company to rethink its denial. If not, we will proceed to court to prove your case.
We may also consider a lawsuit against the owner if the owner does not have valid insurance. In certain situations, South Carolina does allow lawsuits against a landlord if you were bitten by a tenant’s dog in a common area of an apartment building, so this may be an option in a few cases. Our dog bite lawyers will check for any available insurance policies that may cover your claim.
If you cannot identify the dog, our investigators will visit the scene and talk to neighbors or people who work in the area. Sometimes we’re able to identify the dog and owner after all.
Potential Damages in a Dog Bite Case
You may have a lot to deal with if you’ve been the victim of a dog bite. You could suffer from painful injuries, stress or anxiety brought on by the attack, expensive medical bills, and even potentially lost time at work. We will review all your losses and carefully consider them when helping you determine how much compensation to request. Here are some potential damages to think about:
- Medical costs. These range from the copay for a doctor’s visit to X-rays and stitches at the emergency room to follow-up visits or care. You may also need to pick up medication at the pharmacy, and if the dog caused a broken bone, you could even require weeks of physical therapy. It’s helpful to save all your medical bills and consolidate them for your lawyer to review.
- Lost income. Did your dog bite injury force you to miss time at work? Even if you had paid time off, you still lost those days you could have used on something else. You deserve compensation for any time you couldn’t work due to your injuries.
- Disability or disfigurement. The most common way this occurs is permanent and significant scarring from the dog bite, but some people also suffer nerve damage or chronic pain.
- Pain and suffering. Your lawyer will want to include your physical pain but also any emotional or mental pain you’ve experienced. It’s common for dog bite victims to suffer anxiety, depression, or trouble sleeping afterward. Dog attacks can be quite violent and traumatic. Be honest with your lawyer about how you’re feeling emotionally, and don’t hesitate to speak with a mental health specialist if you’re struggling.
- Other expenses are associated with the attack, like traveling to see a doctor.
Auger & Auger Charleston Dog Bite Lawyer
If you or a loved one has sustained a dog attack, our Charleston dog bite attorney stands ready to advocate on your behalf and help to protect your rights within South Carolina law. A swift identification must be made of the animal and the owner or other responsible parties to authenticate the evidence necessary to support your claim. You must also file an animal incident report with the SCDHEC.
There may have been painful injuries along with ferociously inflicted rips, tears, and fractures. In addition to ensuring swift attention for your medical needs, Auger & Auger offers a zero-fee guarantee because we have mastered the art of compelling evidence-gathering to determine how your claim is best pursued. If no satisfactory settlement can be reached with insurers, we will represent your case in civil court.
Call (843) 751-4690 for your free consultation today, with no fees due until recovery!