Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs truly are man’s best friend. Many breeds are perfect for our children, and others make great companions at work. While we may think our dogs would never cause harm to anyone, the truth is that all dogs are descendants of wild wolves. That means that in certain circumstances, our dogs will act aggressively, either in self-defense or in defense of their alpha (a.k.a. their owners). When that happens, you or a loved one could suffer severe injuries and, in rare instances, death.
There are approximately 4.7 million dog bites every year, of which about 800,000 result in the need for medical attention. While that may seem like a lot of bites that need medical attention, it’s only 19% of all bites. However, when dog bites are severe enough to warrant medical attention, they can result in deep lacerations, disfigurement, infection, and more.
If a dog has bitten you in either North or South Carolina, you have legal options, especially if that dog belongs to someone. You can hold the dog owner responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional damage, and more. This lawsuit will most likely be against the owner’s home insurance provider, which means the insurance company’s team of lawyers will come to court against you.
Don’t face the legal process alone. At Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers, we have represented thousands of injury victims over the last 26+ years. We know what it takes to fight the insurance company both in and out of court to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (855) 969-5671 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation with a dog bite attorney.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons. In rare instances, they may be trained to fight. More often, dogs bite because they are scared or in a stressful situation, such as being backed into a corner or having a child play with them too roughly.
In addition, if they feel threatened or feel like their puppies or owner is threatened, they may bite or otherwise attack in an attempt to provide protection. Dogs may also bite if they are startled or not feeling well. If the dog in question is a puppy, they may not realize how sharp their teeth are when playing.
All of these situations involve the actions of humans or other animals that push the dog to defend itself. Though some dogs are naturally more aggressive than others, the right training can all but eliminate that behavior. That doesn’t mean, however, that a dog won’t bite unprovoked. No matter the reason for the bite, you may be entitled to compensation if you’re injured by a dog attack.
What Dogs Bite the Most Often?
It’s a common myth that big dogs bite the most often. However, this isn’t the case. Bigger dogs have much stronger jaws, but unless they are trained to be attack or defense dogs, they are usually more docile. However, bigger dogs are more likely to be used for such jobs, making them disproportionately more likely to bite someone. Smaller dogs, on the other hand, feel threatened more often due to their size and are more prone to bite.
In addition, dogs that are not spayed or neutered are more likely to bite than dogs that are fixed.
The dog breeds that are most prone to biting include:
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Lhasa Apso
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Bull Terrier
Dog Bite Laws in North and South Carolina
North and South Carolina have different laws regarding dog bites, including who can be held liable and when a lawsuit can be brought forward. South Carolina follows a “strict liability” law regarding dog bites. This means owners can be held liable for injuries, even if the owner didn’t know the dog would bite someone.
However, under South Carolina law, the owner can only be held liable if:
- You are injured because the dog bites or attacks you;
- You were either in a public place or lawfully in a private place when you were attacked; and
- You did not provoke the dog.
“Otherwise attacked” means you don’t just have to be bitten by a dog to seek compensation. For example, if someone’s big Great Dane comes sprinting across the park and knocks you over, causing fractured bones, you can seek compensation.
Unlike South Carolina, under North Carolina law, you must show that the dog that injured you or caused damage to your property was a known “dangerous dog.” A “dangerous dog” is one that:
- Has already severely injured or killed someone in an unprovoked attack;
- Has been trained or is owned for dogfighting; or
- Has been deemed a “potentially dangerous dog” by the local animal control board. This means dogs who have bitten someone, have attacked and/or killed another animal, or have acted threateningly or aggressively when approached by another person.
Possible Dog Bite Injuries
There is more than one way to be hurt by a dog bite or attack. Here are some examples of potential injuries you could have from a dog bite:
- Lacerations, or any area of broken skin, which in some cases lead to permanent scarring
- Broken bones, which may happen when a dog attack causes you to fall
- Injuries to the face or eye
- Head and neck injuries often occur when a large dog knocks someone down
- Scarring from a bite
- Nerve or tissue damage in the area of the dog bite
- Anxiety, difficulty sleeping, or PTSD symptoms after the attack
Different Levels Of Dog Bite Severity
Dog bites are classified into six levels. The first two generally don’t result in any significant injury, but the dog’s owner should still be made aware of the incident so they can take steps to correct the behavior. Any kind of biting in dogs should be taken seriously and addressed in training.
- Level One: This is more like a dog snapping its jaws at a person – it displays aggression, but no contact with the person or their skin is made. Usually, dogs do this because they’re scared and want to return the favor and scare away the threat. If a dog snaps at you, it’s a good idea to take a step back, so it feels less threatened.
- Level Two: The dog’s teeth connect with the skin but don’t puncture it. These bites can still be painful, sometimes leaving bruises, but usually serious injury is avoided. Dogs usually do this type of biting because they’re seriously stressed. Again, the dog’s owner should figure out what is causing this stress and work on reminding the dog that its teeth don’t belong on humans.
- Level Three: The third level involves a bite where the skin is broken, but the wounds are shallow. If you’ve had any kind of bite that breaks the skin, you should clean it thoroughly and inquire about the dog’s rabies vaccination status. The dog should be seen by a vet or dog training professional about this behavior.
- Level Four: At this level, there is a single bite that goes fairly deep – by definition, more than half the length of the dog’s tooth. (However, this definition ignores that it’s usually not practical to try to measure the dog’s teeth in this situation.) There could be one or more puncture wounds, depending on how many teeth broke the skin. Often these bites involve the dog digging in its teeth and shaking its head while holding onto the limb. These bites can be very scary and may not end until someone else manages to drag the dog away. Again, the dog should immediately be seen by a vet or behavioral specialist. Meanwhile, you should have your wounds treated by a medical professional.
- Level Five: This is like Level Four but with multiple wounds. Essentially, the dog bites you, then lets go only to bite you again. (Or, you were bitten by more than one dog in the same attack.) At this point, the dog should be classified as a “dangeous dog.” Depending on local ordinances, sometimes the dog will be euthanized, but in other instances, the owner may be allowed to keep the dog only if it is restrained. If a dog previously declared a “dangerous dog” is out wandering the neighborhood off leash and attacks a person, there is usually a reasonably strong case against the owner for negligence.
- Level Six: These dog bites are fatal. Obviously the dog will be classifed as a “dangerous dog” and it’s likely the local government will want it to be euthanized. Depending on the situation, the owner may even face criminal charges. They will also probably be liable in a civil case brought by the deceased person’s estate.
What is a “Dangerous Dog”?
Here is a more detailed explanation of the three situations in which a dog will be labeled a “dangerous dog” under North Carolina statutes:
- The dog bit a person hard enough to cause serious injuries, which may include deep lacerations, broken bones, or the bite was severe enough to require cosmetic surgery or a stay in the hospital.
- The dog killed or seriously hurt a domestic animal, like a cat or another dog, when they were off the dog owner’s personal property.
- The dog was off the owner’s property when they approached a human in a “vicious or terrorizing manner” with what appeared to be the intention to attack. In other words, the dog behaved very aggressively in a situation where it was not provoked by a person.
Situations Where the Dog’s Owner May Not Be Liable
It is often difficult to tell whether the owner is the responsible party or not, so your best option is to check with a dog bite lawyer. However, here are a few exceptions in which the owner will usually avoid liability for the dog attack:
- The dog was being used by law enforcement in an official capacity at the time it bit someone.
- The dog was taking part in a lawful hunting situation when it bit someone.
- Some situations where the dog injured a domestic animal like a cat or dog either in a lawful hunt or if the dog was working as a herding or predator control dog on the owner’s property, and the domestic animal was of a type affected by the dog’s work.
- In most situations where the dog bit a person who was either trespassing on the dog owner’s property, had assaulted, tormented, or provoked the dog, or the human victim was in the process of committing or trying to commit a crime. In other words, if a person is bitten by a dog while trying to break into someone’s home, they probably don’t have a liability case.
Other Potential Dog Attack Injuries
Bites are not the only way dogs can cause harm, although they are probably the most common. As mentioned above, dogs can do considerable damage if they jump on you and knock you over. Broken bones, lacerations, and damage to any property you might be carrying are all potential injuries. There may also be other, less common situations where a dog harms a person. If you’re unsure who is responsible after an injury involving a dog, talk with a lawyer to learn more about your options.
Seek Help from a Dog Bite Attorney Today
Dog bites in the Carolinas are common and can cause severe injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered major or fatal injuries because of a dog bite, we can help. The dog bite attorneys at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers have been helping dog bite victims for over 26 years. We know what needs to be proven to get you the compensation you deserve, and we know what evidence must be shown.
If you’re hesitating because you’re unsure if you can afford our services, don’t! We don’t charge a dime unless we win your case; our payment comes from the compensation we win on your behalf. Call us today at (855) 969-5671 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation with a dog bite attorney.