South Dakota does not have a dog bite statute, but it does have vicious dog statute that may be applicable to certain dog bite attacks. When there is no dog bite statute in place and the vicious dog statute does not apply, common law liability applies. In South Dakota, victims can seek to recover damages under the common law “one-bite rule” or by claiming negligence.
The common law rule, often referred to as the “one-bite rule,” is not very victim friendly since it allows dog owners in many cases to escape liability if it is the dog’s first attack. Under this rule, a dog owner is only liable if he knew or had reason to know that his dog had vicious tendencies or dangerous propensities. So if a dog owner knows that his dog previously bit someone, from then on he is on notice that the dog is dangerous – and he would be held liable for any future incidents.
Vicious Dog Statute
This South Dakota statute defines a vicious dog a few different ways. Under this rule a vicious dog is:
- Any dog which, when unprovoked, in a vicious or terrorizing manner approaches in an apparent attitude of attack, or bites, inflicts injury, assaults, or otherwise attacks a person in public;
- Any dog which, on private property, when unprovoked, in a vicious or terrifying manner approaches in an apparent attitude of attack, or bites, or inflicts injury, or otherwise attacks a mailman, meter reader, serviceman, journeyman, delivery man, or other employed person who is on the owner’s property with permission.
- However, a dog cannot be declared vicious if an injury or damage is sustained to any person who was trespassing upon the dog owner’s premises, who provoked the dog, or who was committing or attempting to commit a crime.
According to this South Dakota statute, liability is assigned to the dog owner because owning a vicious dog is considered a public nuisance. So, a person directly affected by the dog (attacked or otherwise) can file a civil action to have the dog owner stop the nuisance. It is similar to the “one bite rule” in that it shields the dog owner from liability for the first injury caused by the dog, unless liability can be found under a different claim. Once the dog owner is put on notice that the dog has dangerous propensities, he will be held strictly liable for any subsequent attacks. Simply stated, liability results from keeping a dog that was known to hurt people.
If a victim wishes to recover under a negligence claim in South Dakota, he or she has the burden of proving all of the elements of the claim. The injured person must show that the dog owner had a duty to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing injuries to society, that the owner failed to meet that standard, and as a direct result of that failure the victim was injured.
Get help with your claim by talk to a South Dakota dog bite lawyer.