If a dog bites you in South Carolina, dog bite laws are on your side when seeking compensation from the dog’s owner to pay for your medical bills and other damages. It helps to have a South Carolina dog bite lawyer but here are some of the basics.
The dog bite statute renders the state a “strict liability” state, which holds a dog owner responsible for all attacks by their canine companions. However, there are two defenses that can excuse the dog and dog owner from being held liable. In addition to recovering under the strict liability statute, dog bite victims can also file suit under the common law.
Strict Liability Statutory Law
Whenever a person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, the owner is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. Strict liability means that the dog owner will be held liable even if he did not know and could not have known the dog would bite. As long as the attack occurred, the owner will be held liable as long as the two defenses listed below do not apply.
The statute of limitations to file a claim is three years from the day of the incident. The dog’s owner will have a defense to any claim filed after the statute of limitations expires.
In the aftermath of a dog bite attack, a dog owner may be able to escape liability if he or she can prove one of two defenses: provocation defense and/or trespassing defense.
Provocation Defense: If a person provokes a dog into attacking him, then the owner of the dog is not liable. There are many different forms of provocation: teasing, harassing, abusing, or angering the dog. If a victim is injured due to his provocation, then the dog owner can escape liability and the victim may be barred from recovering damages.
Trespassing Defense: If a person is on private property without permission from the owner, then liability will be limited if a dog attack occurs. This excludes people who are on the property under a lawful duty such as mailmen.
Common Law Negligence
To recover damages under the common law claim of negligence, a plaintiff must prove a number of components. First, that the dog’s owner or keeper had control and possession of the dog at the time of the injury. Then, once control and possession are established, the owner or keeper owes a duty of care against foreseeable harm. So if a victim can prove the owner did not uphold a reasonable standard of care, then that duty is breached.
If the attack was reasonably foreseeable, and occurred because the dog owner breached his duty to society then a claim of negligence may apply. As long as injuries are sustained due to the dog owner’s negligent care in handling the dog, a victim may try to recover under this common law doctrine in South Carolina.
If you’re ready to talk to an attorney, get started here.