Your dog is part of your family; for most of us, they are less like a pet and more like a child.
You look for every opportunity to take your dog with you when you leave the house. Luckily, the city of Greenville is very pet-friendly. According to BringFido.com, there are even 128 restaurants that will welcome both you and your canine companion. Before you strap on the leash and head out the door, it’s important to know whether your dog is under your firm control. If not, even a typically friendly dog could become territorial and lash out at a stranger who is giving off a strange vibe.
Our Greenville dog bite attorney understands the panic that can erupt from a dog attack — on both sides of the equation. The victim is forced to deal with injuries that range from minor to disfiguring, and because South Carolina is a strict liability state, the dog’s owner could face being forced to euthanize their cuddly family member. Dog bite cases can be particularly stressful for all involved. That said, Auger & Auger’s expert attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure you are compensated for your medical expenses and financial losses.
Dogs are, in fact, domesticated animals — but their animal instincts are fully intact. This was made very clear by an incident that occurred in Greenville in March of 2018. A patron took their dog to 13 Stripes Brewery for a bite to eat on the patio where dogs have always been welcome, and the dog bit another patron.
While Michael Robinson, co-owner of the brewery, knows that the incident was not a typical one, he felt that the only way to protect patrons and employees from such attacks was to stop allowing dogs to accompany their owners to the establishment. It wasn’t a decision the owners enjoyed having to make, but having to worry about a 3rd party lawsuit took precedence.
You do not want to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit because your dog was overstimulated, frightened, stressed, or ill when you took them out in public. There are steps you can take to help reduce the chance that your dog will reach out and bite someone:
● Make sure your dog has had a meal before you head out the door.
● Ensure that your dog is not feeling unwell; that could change their mood.
● Take your dog for a long walk to tire it out before you leave for dinner.
● Bring along a favorite blanket or cushion they can relax on.
● Take the time to socialize your dog every day if you plan on taking them with you to dog-friendly places in the city.
● Don’t be afraid to stop someone from approaching your dog.
● Keep your dog on a lead at all times, even if they normally respond well to your commands. Sometimes a dog who normally “behaves” will become frightened or agitated, and their behavior will change.
● When you sit down to eat, look to see if there is a good place to tie the dog’s lead to near your table. If at all possible, you want to prevent them from moving far enough away to bite other diners.
In some cases, you must leave your dog at home if it doesn’t follow basic commands or isn’t 100% friendly toward strangers. No matter how much you want to interact with your dog every moment of the day — take them to a fenced dog park — you don’t want to risk having to make a life-or-death decision when it comes to your pet.
Although dog owners should take responsibility and keep pets out of situations where they might cause harm, it is also helpful to respect the space of dogs you don’t know. If you see a friendly-looking dog, always ask their human if it’s okay before approaching or touching them. Some dogs are friendly until they’re not, and the dog owner should let you know if it isn’t a good idea to come any closer. If you see a dog on its own, it’s best to steer clear until the dog owner arrives, and try to track them down if you think the dog is lost.
It can be hard to know what to do after a dog bite. Dog bites can be scary, and may last a few seconds or a few minutes if the dog doesn’t want to let go. Once you finally get away from the dog, examine your injuries and do your best to stop the bleeding with whatever you have on hand. At the same time, you should be looking around for the dog’s owner if you don’t already see them or know who they are.
You now have two important concerns: You need to get medical attention, but you also need to identify the dog’s owner if at all possible. If you already know who the owner is and where to find them (a neighbor, for example), then you’re ready to go to urgent care for treatment. If the dog owner is present and you don’t know them, ask for their name, contact info, and homeowner’s insurance policy number. (Not all homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites, but some do.) If there are other witnesses who saw the dog bite, try to get their contact info as well.
If the dog owner does not appear to be around, it’s not a good idea to try to find them while bleeding. You don’t want to delay treatment, and if you’re bleeding heavily, you may want to call 911 instead of trying to drive yourself to the doctor. If you’re with a friend or family member, you might ask them to continue looking for the dog’s owner while you seek treatment. If at all possible, you should also take pictures of your injuries and the scene where the attack happened.
Once you’ve received treatment for your injuries, if the dog’s owner still hasn’t been located, call Greenville County Animal Control at (864) 467-7595 and call Rabies Control to report the animal bite at (864) 372-3273. Give them the best description you can of the dog, where it was last seen, and which direction it was headed. This will help them when they go out searching for the animal.
If Animal Control is able to locate the dog, they will impound it and attempt to find its owner. Under Section 47-3-50, dog owners are not allowed to let their animals run free off their property and may be charged with a misdemeanor and fined for this. There are additional fines if the dog bites someone while roaming the neighborhood, but these are paid to the local government. Additionally, the dog bite victim may file a civil suit against the owner for medical expenses related to the bite, time missed at work, pain and suffering, and other damages.
South Carolina law is very clear: If a dog bites you in a public place or on private property that you entered legally, the dog’s owner is responsible so long as you did not provoke the dog.
This frequently comes up in dog bite cases, because often the dog’s owner will use provocation as a defense. The following can be considered “provoking” a dog:
● Abusing or hitting the dog or touching it in a way that causes it to snap. However, some dogs can be set off by gestures that seem friendly to you, which is why it’s important to always ask the dog’s owner before touching it. That way the owner can tell you if the dog hates having his ears touched, gets upset when anyone touches her head, doesn’t respond well to contact with strangers, etc.
● Harassing the dog. This can include taunting it, yelling, throwing things at it, taking its food or water dishes, or trying to remove its puppies.
● Encouraging the dog to attack someone, whether it’s you or someone else. (If someone else encouraged the dog to attack you, be sure to let your Greenville dog bite attorney know.)
● Trespassing. If the dog bite victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the attack, then the owner is not liable. However, it is not considered trespassing if you needed to be on the property to do your job, such as delivering food or packages. For example, if you’re delivering a pizza and a hungry dog attacks and injures you, then the owner would be liable.
If you have not yet contacted a Greenville dog bite lawyer, you should do so immediately. Your attorney will help you by investigating the attack and gathering evidence to refute the dog owner’s claims.
If the owner truly can’t be located, or if Animal Control finds the dog and determines it’s a stray, then it’s likely that there won’t be anyone to file a claim against. Your own health insurance should help with at least some of the medical costs, but that will likely be your only option. Even homeowner’s insurance that covers dog bites usually only does so in a liability capacity – in other words, it covers your liability when someone is hurt on your property, not when you are hurt on your property.
Although options are limited when the dog’s owner can’t be located, you should not assume that the dog is feral or the owner can’t be found until a lawyer has done a thorough investigation on your behalf. We send our experienced team out to the area where the dog bite happened. Our people knock on doors, acquire surveillance footage from doorbells or traffic control cameras, talk to witnesses, and work to identify the dog and its owner. We will also follow up with Animal Control to find out if they located the dog and/or owner. In some cases, we are able to track this person down and seek compensation from them. If there’s a way to locate a dog owner, we’ll find it.
This is another common question. Even a non-aggressive dog can cause harm if they take you by surprise. One scenario that we see frequently is when a dog jumps up on a person to greet them. Often the dog only intends to lick the person, which may seem harmless. Typically the dog’s owner is used to this behavior and is not hurt because they’re expecting the jump. But a stranger may not be anticipating that a dog will pounce on them, and could easily be knocked to the ground. For this reason, many “friendly” dogs have caused broken bones and other injuries.
In this case, the dog’s owner is still liable for any damage their pet caused. If you suffered any injuries as a result of contact with someone else’s dog, please call our office for a free consultation.
Getting bitten by a dog is frightening and extremely painful. Being outright attacked can be life-altering. Victims of dog bites are not only saddled with physical and emotional pain but also with the financial hardship of paying medical bills. Our Greenville dog bite attorney is here to ensure that you have fair representation and equitable compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, reach out to our office to schedule a no-cost case evaluation. We will review the details of your case and put together a comprehensive plan for securing the damages you are entitled to. Our zero-fee guarantee means that you don’t pay until we win. Call (855) 969-5730 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!