Charlotte Dog Bite and Animal Attack Attorneys
Dog bites and animal attacks represent some of the most gruesome personal injuries suffered by residents of Charlotte and surrounding communities. Although the most common injuries are disfiguring scars from a dog bite, we have also represented clients that have sustained traumatic scarring from being clawed and clients that have sustained fractures requiring surgery when tripped or knocked to the ground by an aggressive animal.
Unlike a car accident claim, dog and animal attack claims are usually not investigated by the local police or animal control. Obtaining the facts necessary to prove your case is difficult, especially considering the nature of this area of law which makes it difficult to hold an owner responsible for the actions of their animal. You must hire a law firm experienced in Charlotte dog bite law and has a stellar record representing the victims of Charlotte dog bites and animal attacks.
Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers in Charlotte, NC
Charlotte dog bite lawyer Arlene Auger has represented dog bite and animal attack victims in the Carolinas for over 20 years.
“Our firm takes an aggressive approach to dog bite claims and makes sure that we start the investigation immediately. Dog bite claims in North Carolina are difficult to prove so it is imperative that we meet with our client right away and begin gathering evidence to prove our case. Documenting the bites by photograph and measurement, locating the animal and its owner, locating insurance, speaking with witnesses to the dog attack, and even speaking with neighbors familiar with the dog’s personality, aggressive behavior, and bite history are all important in proving your case. We want to make sure that we are the first responders, not the insurance carrier adjusters!” – Arlene Auger.
Misconception About the “One Bite Rule”
While North Carolina adheres to the archaic rule that dog owners are not liable for the first bite inflicted by their dog, owners will be held liable under certain situations. If a dog has previously been declared a “dangerous dog” by a municipality, North Carolina General Statutes section 67-4.1 holds the owner strictly liable for injuries inflicted by the dog. Additionally, an owner will be held liable for knowing the general propensities for that particular breed. For example, the owner of a pit bull will be held liable for knowing the general propensities of a pit bull and will be liable for injuries inflicted by that breed. On the other hand, if you are bitten by a stray dog, you have little legal recourse because your claim is against the dog’s owner or keeper. We have been successful in locating the owner and applicable insurance coverage in cases where the unclaimed dog had a chip with the owner’s identity.
Are Pit Bulls Or Other Breeds Banned In Charlotte?
No. There is no statewide legislation about the breed, and most cities and municipalities don’t have any legislation about them. It is perfectly legal to own a pit bull in Charlotte, but owners may still be liable if their dog attacks someone.
Even though dog owners are supposed to be aware of the general propensities of the breed, any dog can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, owners who don’t realize this could be setting themselves up for a lawsuit. Sometimes, the dog’s owner says his dog would never bite anyone.
This kind of thinking is problematic. Some breeds are known for aggressive behavior, but any dog can become aggressive if provoked or frightened. Anyone who owns a dog should take the time to train the animal and socialize it properly around other dogs and humans. They should also be aware of their dog’s personality and anything that tends to make the dog growl, snap, or act out in a threatening way. Training can also help reduce behavioral problems and allows the owner some control of their dog when out in public. Failing to train an animal is setting the dog up for failure.
Another misconception is thinking that small dogs can’t be aggressive or dangerous. Small animals can still have powerful jaws and sharp teeth. One study found that smaller dogs displayed more aggressive behavior in general and that particularly aggressive breeds ranged in size from German Shepherds to Miniature Poodles and Chihuahuas. Rough collies were rated the most aggressive breed.
Again, dogs are as individual as people, and some members of aggressive breeds are perfectly docile, while some dogs of seemingly calm breeds may display aggression. Many dogs bite when they feel threatened. If you see a stray dog, it’s good to approach slowly and cautiously and back off if it growls or displays any threatening behavior. You should not attempt to pet or touch a strange dog, even one who seems friendly, if its owner isn’t around. If the owner is present, ask if it’s okay first – the owner should know if the dog normally takes well to interactions with strangers or would be better left alone. If you have children, teach them these safety rules for strange dogs.
In North Carolina, it is up to each municipality to decide whether or not to enact a leash law. The City of Charlotte has a leash law, embodied in Part 2, Section 3, Chapter 71 of the Code of Ordinances. Charlotte’s leash law requires dogs to be on a leash or within a fence, regardless of whether it is on the owners’ property. It further provides that if the dog is on a leash, the leash holder must be “of sufficient age and physical size or ability” to restrain the dog. In other words, if a person lets a small child walk a large dog on their own, they could be in violation of the statute. The law does allow for the use of an “invisible fence,” provided there is a visible, permanent sign, and also allows an adult over the age of 18 to have the dog off-leash on the owner’s property if the adult is immediately adjacent to the dog and the dog is obedient to that person’s voice commands.
Violation of Charlotte’s leash law does not automatically make a dog’s owner liable. North Carolina has laws about contributory negligence, meaning that if you have contributed to your injury, you may be prevented from recovering money damages for your injury.
If you or a family member has been the victim of a dog bite in Charlotte, our dog bite attorneys can help you with the following:
What If the Dog’s Owner Claims You Were at Fault?
With contributory negligence laws, this is often the dog owner’s defense. They might claim that you “provoked” the dog somehow or acted aggressively toward it. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads to an argument between the victim and the dog’s owner. We don’t recommend this approach. It’s easy to unintentionally say something that the dog’s owner may misconstrue and use against you later on. Instead, contact a Charlotte dog bite lawyer and let us help you with the situation. We can discuss many strategies to overcome the other party’s claims and present evidence that you were not at fault in the attack.
Reasonable Expectations for Dog Owners
People who own dogs or other potentially dangerous animals have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from injuring others. These include:
- Ensuring the dog stays on their property and isn’t wandering the streets. This also helps to keep the dog safe as well.
- Making sure the dog is restrained around strangers, especially if this particular animal is often fearful or aggressive around new people. This may mean placing the dog in another room and closing the door when a repair-person comes to the home, keeping the dog on a leash in public, putting the dog in a fenced backyard when visitors are over, etc.
- Letting visitors know about the dog and its level of friendliness. If the dog is fearful of new people or aggressive, the owner should let newcomers know not to approach or pet the dog. A “beware of dog” sign on the lawn may also be helpful.
- Giving the dog a calm, low-stress environment. Dogs exposed to violence, neglect, or abuse can become aggressive as a result.
- Feeding the dog regularly. Like humans, dogs can get a little hangry, making them more likely to become aggressive or attack someone. If the owner isn’t feeding the dog properly and it attacks someone, they may be negligent.
If the dog’s owner failed to carry out one or more of these duties, they might have been negligent, leading to your attack. However, you will still need to prove this in court. Your attorney can help investigate the situation, interview witnesses, and collect as much evidence as possible.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
First, try to get away from the dog however you can. If you can’t get away and you’re in a public place, yell for help. The owner may be nearby and could be able to call the dog off. If not, sometimes strangers will help haul the dog off you or at least call 911 for help. Once the dog has been managed or you’ve gotten away from it, assess your injuries and seek medical attention. Take pictures of your wounds and the scene of the attack, if possible. However, you should not go back to the scene if you think the dog might still be there.
While you’re waiting for the ambulance, look around and try to locate the dog’s owner. Ask for their name, contact info, and the carrier of their home insurance policy. (The good news is that homeowner’s insurance will usually apply even if the dog bite did not happen on their property.) If the dog’s owner gets upset, try to stay calm and maintain that you’d be happy to take their info and finish discussing the situation another time.
Sometimes the dog owner may grab their dog and disappear. If this happens, don’t attempt to chase them. The last thing you need is a second dog attack to deal with! Do try to get a description of both the dog and owner, including what the human is wearing and what name you heard them call the dog if any. If they leave in a vehicle, try to get the plate number or the car’s description. Write everything down as soon as possible before your memory fades or pain pills make you groggy. If the animal’s owner never showed up and the dog is no longer nearby, give the dog’s description to Animal Control. They may be able to find the canine and get it off the street before anyone else is hurt.
Treating a dog bite is necessary, but it can be expensive. You may need stitches, X-rays, rabies shots if there is no proof the dog was vaccinated, antibiotics, or other treatment. In some cases, you may need a cast or other treatment for a broken bone. When there is significant scarring, you may need a consultation with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Even with insurance, this kind of care can be costly. After getting medical care for your wounds, speak with an attorney about your options for finding the owner and filing a claim for compensation.
Call Auger & Auger Personal Injury Attorneys
At Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers, we can help you make sense of your dog bite accident case and prepare you for the next steps. If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite, contact Auger & Auger for your free consultation. Call us today at 855-969-5671.