The Basics of South Carolina Dog Bite Law
If a dog bites you in South Carolina, dog bite laws are on your side when seeking compensation from the dogs owner to pay for your injury-related bills.
State, county, and city laws all govern dog bites, making this area of law complicated. If a dog has bitten you in South Carolina, youll need the advice of a local attorney who is familiar with dog bite cases to see if the circumstances in your particular incident will support a successful lawsuit.
Dog bites fall under the category of personal injury, or tort law, similar to car accidents and slip and falls. Many personal injury attorneys in South Carolina are willing to work on contingency, meaning they charge no money up front but do charge a percentage of a settlement or jury award later on. This makes them motivated to take solid cases.
In addition, many South Carolina dog bite lawyers are willing to meet you for a free first-time consultation. So theres nothing to lose in meeting with an attorney to learn your legal options, and during the consultation the lawyer can evaluate the strength of your case.
Thestatute of limitations in South Carolina is three years. This means that you have three years from the time that a dog bites and injures you to file a lawsuit.
What to Do in the Aftermath of a Dog Bite
While it may seem intuitive to clean the wound and seek medical attention for a dog bite, you should also quickly try to get the name and address of the dogs owner. Not only will this help you should you decide to take legal action against the owner, it will help your medical provider determine your risk of contracting rabies, a fatal disease that can be transmitted through the saliva of animals.
South Carolina law requires any dog who bitesa human to be quarantined for observation for 10 days either at the dog owners property or at a local animal control shelter. The owner must allow the rabies control officer daily access to the dog to monitor for signs of rabies.
If the dog is a stray and its whereabouts are unknown, your medical provider may consider administering a series of rabies vaccinations. Likewise, if a monitored dog shows signs of being rabid, you will most likely undergo the vaccinations, and the dog will be euthanized.
If you believe your injuries will be expensive to treat and you are considering filing a lawsuit, youll want to document your injuries by photographing them, as well as any torn and bloody clothing. Also, try to get names and contact information for any witnesses.
South Carolina Dog Bite Law
In South Carolina, the owner of a dog that bites you is strictly liable under the law as long as you were either in a public place or lawfully on private property, including the dog owners property. This means that unless you were trespassing or otherwise breaking the law in South Carolina, the owner must pay for any dog bite, injury-related expenses. The only exception is if you somehow provoked the dog to attack.
Three towns have breed-specific laws in South Carolina. Columbia and Travelers Rest ban Rottweilers, Chow Chows, and Dobermans, and pit bulls are banned in Dillon.
What You Can Expect to Recover from a Dog Bite Lawsuit
If you decide to pursue litigation and try to get compensation for your dog bite-related costs, you may be able to sue to recover the following expenses:
- Your medical bills
- Lost income, both from treating the immediate injury and from any future lost income should you become incapacitated
- Pain and suffering, which may include a new fear of dogs, especially in children who may have nightmares after the attack
- Property damage, if any
- Loss of consortium, which means that the injury somehow damaged your relationship with your spouse or family
What Role Does Insurance Pay?
Many homeowner policies will cover the costs associated with the dog bites. Typical liability policies may offer up to $300,000 worth of coverage.
Some insurance companies will not cover breeds that have a tendency to bite, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers. Additionally, bites that take place in the owners car may instead be covered by an automobile policy.
If the dog owner has liability insurance, it is likely that the insurance company will be paying for the owners defense in any lawsuit you bring as well as any settlement or judgment you win.
Again, your South Carolina lawyer familiar with dog bite accidents will advise you on whether you should pursue a lawsuit as a result of your dog bite injuries based on what happened in your particular case.
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