A backyard gate left open, a leash snapping in two, an aggressive breed getting rough with your child; accidents happen every day. When animals attack, their owners are held responsible for the damage their injury does. Dog owners have a legal responsibility to keep their pets from damaging property or causing injury and harm to other people. We want to assume that all dog owners are responsible and aware of the capacity their dog has to do harm. We assume that others will act with responsibility and caution, but sometimes this does not happen. Sometimes dog owners act recklessly, with knowledge that their dog is aggressive and by not taking the proper safety measures. When this happens, they may face a fine or jail time or be forced to put their animal down. Green Law Firm knows how deeply a dog bite can physically and emotionally scar an injured person! We can protect your rights after a bite incident has occurred. Here is everything you need to know about dog bites and working with a dog bite attorney.
Do I Have a Case for a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
You are overcome with nerves in the aftermath of a dog bite. Maybe a dog that normally sits quietly in the back of your local convenience store lunged at you unprovoked when you walked by? Or you, your child and your small terrier were attacked by a neighbor’s dog who was sitting, unfastened, on the patio as you walked by? Once you’ve attended to immediate medical needs, you are probably wondering, do you have a lawsuit on your hands?
There are three ways dog owners can be held liable for the actions of their pets.
- They can be held liable if they knew they had a dog with a tendency to be aggressive and cause that type of injury. In many states, this is known as the “one bite rule.”
- The owner is liable based on a dog bite statute.
- The dog owner acted in an unreasonable and reckless way with their actions directly leading to the injury. A common example of this would be accidentally leaving the back yard open so that a dog could run out or allowing a dog on the patio without being secured.
This states that owners must be legally responsible for their dogs if they have caused an injury in the past; once they have bitten or caused injury, they are likely to bite and injure again. South Carolina does not subscribe to the “one bite rule,” however, owners are still responsible if they know their dog has previously been aggressive and caused injury.
Many states make dog owners liable for any injury their dog causes. This also applies in South Carolina, where owners are responsible for any bite or injury their dog makes.
Types of Dog Bite Injuries
While a “bite” may be the thing that immediately comes into mind when you think about injuries, there are many ways someone can be injured in a dog attack. These include:
- Cuts and scrapes (known as lacerations and abrasions,
- Puncture wounds in the skin,
- Skin tearing (known as avulsion),
- Dislocations and fractures,
- Amputations and
- Crushing injuries.
Also, an injured party can sue for:
- Medical expenses that may include emergency room treatment, ongoing visits, and mental health,
- Property damages, including clothing, bicycles, motorcycles and items on the injured person’s body,
- Loss of income and wages while in recovery and
- Pain and suffering.
Can I Buy Dog Bite Insurance?
The short answer is yes. However, if one is shopping for liability insurance specifically for his or her dog, this will often alert insurance companies to the heightened risk of the animal. Many insurance carriers will decline this policy, forcing dog owners to go to specialty insurance company offering high rates.
Homeowners insurance is most commonly responsible for compensating injured parties in the event of a dog bite. In a recent year, over one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims included dog bites! These claims paid out an estimated $413 million. Homeowners and renters insurance typically cover damage from dog bites. Earlier, we explained what the “one bite rule” is. While South Carolina state law does not follow this law, most insurance companies do. This means, after the first incident, an insurance company will often cancel insurance or include a “canine exclusion” to the current policy.
Specifics in insurance coverage can be complicated and can vary by provider. This is why it’s essential to secure the help of a knowledgeable dog bite attorney! For example, not all policies cover injuries connected with a vehicle or accidents that happen off-site. Accidents that happen while in cars, for example, a dog that bites someone while in the back of a pickup truck, can be covered by auto insurance or homeowner’s insurance. If you have been involved in a dog bite accident, Bill Green can help!
Do I Really Need a Dog Bite Attorney?
All personal injury accidents can be overwhelming, complex and challenging. Dog-bite injuries may also come with an extra layer of trauma. It is ingrained in our heads that dogs are our companions and protectors! Imagine the shock and feeling of violation when, for example, a neighbor’s dog causes injury to you or your child? Green Law Firm understands the medical damages, pain and suffering that come with a dog-bite injury. We will fight tirelessly to represent your rights and bring a sense of security back to your life with as stress-free a claim process as possible. If you are unsure of your rights in a dog bite case, call us for a 100 percent risk-free case review! Green Law Firm can help to assess the full extent of your injury and will assemble your case, meeting all necessary deadlines and aggressively pursuing fair and just compensation on your behalf!