The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long acknowledged that dogs provide health and social benefits. Nevertheless, millions of people are bitten and attacked by dogs every year. According to CDC estimates, in a single year (1994), there were 800,000 people seen at emergency rooms for dog bites.
Who is Responsible When a Dog Attacks?
Under Section 47-3-110 of the South Carolina Code, the owner of a dog is generally responsible for the dog’s conduct, with limited exceptions.
What if the Attack Happens on Private Property?
The dog’s owner is responsible for any bite that occurs in a public place or in a private place, provided the victim was lawfully permitted to be there. So, if a victim was trespassing, there would likely be no liability. But if the victim was invited over for dinner and got bitten, then there is liability.
What if Someone Other than the Owner Was Watching the Dog?
Owners are not the only ones who can be liable. If an owner let someone else watch the dog, and that person failed to control the dog, thus resulting in the attack, then that person may also be responsible for the attack.
What About Postal Carriers and Utility Workers?
South Carolina protects those who are acting in an official job function, such as rural postal carriers, private package carriers, utility workers, and so forth. If your job requires you to enter property or perform inspections of property, and you are bitten by a dog on the property, the law holds the owner accountable.
Are there Other Exceptions to Liability?
Yes. The law will not hold a dog’s owner liable for bites if at the time of the bite:
- The dog was provoked or harassed; or
- The dog was a police dog working in its official capacity (other special rules apply).
Common Insurance Company Disputes Over Dog Bites
Most pet owners understand their obligation to maintain a safe pet. Sadly, homeowners insurance companies often seek any way possible to avoid paying for serious, disfiguring, and painful dog attacks. They may argue that the victim was not lawfully in the place where the attack took place, even if the facts are exceedingly clear. They may argue that the dog was provoked because the victim ‘entered the room quickly’ or ‘made a loud noise.’ These false and arbitrary denials require aggressive legal representation right from the start.
Contact a South Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer
The attorneys of the David Aylor Law Offices know how to get justice for injury victims. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a serious dog bite, call or visit us online to schedule a free consultation. Don’t trust the insurance company to do the right thing. Insurance companies have just one priority – not paying you for your injuries.
With three offices throughout the Lowcountry, we make it easy for you to get the help you need. But don’t wait too long. The law imposes strict limitations on how long you have to pursue your claim.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.