Most people know that if they are bitten by someone else’s dog, there are laws that protect them. In South Carolina, for instance, the “dog bite statute” provides for strict liability on the part of a dog owner, where that dog attacks someone. Things get a bit more confusing when the dog hurts someone, but there was no attack. At David Aylor Law Offices, our attorneys have years of experience carefully working to resolve cases involving serious injuries. Here’s what you should understand about South Carolina non-violent injuries caused by dogs.
When is an Owner Liable?
Under Sect. 47-3-710 of the South Carolina Revised Statutes, an owner or keeper of a dog is liable for injuries in limited circumstances. Under South Carolina law, liability exists when the owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog was dangerous. This so-called one-bite rule just means that if there is reason to believe the dog is a danger, then an owner has a heightened responsibility to protect people who are legally on their property or to protect the public when taking the dog around others.
It Doesn’t Have to Be a Bite
There are plenty of ways a dog can injure someone without biting or attacking them. For instance, consider the following scenarios, all of which could be very serious.
- A large but friendly dog jumps up and knocks over an elderly person, leading to a hip fracture
- A dog runs by, knocking a child over
- A dog gets off a leash and runs into traffic, causing car accidents
- A beloved pet trips someone at the top of a stairway, leading to a serious fall
All of these injuries could be compensable under traditional legal negligence theories or even, in some cases, under the “dog bite” law. Here is how it works.
South Carolina law says that an owner is strictly liable for the injuries where an animal (doesn’t have to be a dog) takes some specific action (doesn’t have to be a bite), which is unprovoked. If that unprovoked act occurs somewhere other than the dog’s confined area, and it causes an injury, then there may be liability.
There have been many cases involving friendly dogs that cause serious injuries. At the heart of the law is the intent to make owners take responsibility for the actions of animals they own and control.
Fleeing an Aggressive Animal
Finally, the law even holds owners liable if their animals act in a way that would reasonably make others feel they are aggressive or may attack, and this leads to an injury. This happens when the dog or other animal behaves in a way that makes people “reasonably believe” the animal “will attack and cause bodily injury to a human being.”
For instance, if a person is walking on a public sidewalk and a large dog gets off its leash and charges at the person, showing its teeth and growling and the person turns to run but falls and injures herself, there could be liability, even if the dog was ultimately restrained and never attacked the person. The question is whether the person’s reaction was reasonable under the circumstances.
Get Help With Your Injury Claim
Many homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for dog-related injuries that occur on private property. In some cases, they even cover injuries that occur off the property. At David Aylor Law Offices, we help with all kinds of injury claims. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation today.
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.