Dog bite victims in Columbia, S.C. can recover compensation under a special statute as well as the doctrines of scienter, negligence per se, negligent, and intentional tort.
In South Carolina, if a dog bites you, the dog bite laws are on your side when it comes to seeking financial compensation from the dog owner to pay for injury-related expenses. However, city, county, and state laws govern dog bites, which can make this a complicated area of law.
The statute of limitations for bringing a case against a dog’s owner is three years. In other words, you have three years from that time of the bite and injuries to file a suit.
What to Do When You’ve Been Bitten
While intuition may dictate that you clean the wound and seek medical attention for your wounds, you should also
get the name and contact details of the dog’s owner. This will help you with deciding whether or not take legal action against the owner, and will also help your doctor determine your likelihood of contracting rabies.
Under South Carolina law, any dog who bites a person must be put into quarantine for a period of 10 days, either at the owner’s property or the local animal control shelter. If the dog is quarantined at the owner’s property, the owner must allow daily access to the rabies control officer to monitor the dog. If the dog is a stray and you don’t know where it comes from, your doctor may consider giving you a series of rabies vaccinations. Also, if a dog shows symptoms of being rabid, you will likely have to undergo vaccinations and the dog will have to be euthanized.
If your injuries are costly and you want to file a lawsuit, you should document your injuries with photographs, and hang onto any torn and bloody clothing.
The Dog Bite Law in Columbia, S.C.
In South Carolina, the dog owner is strictly liable under the law provided you were in a public place or lawfully on private property when the dog bit you. So, unless you were breaking the law in the state or trespassing, the owner will be liable to pay for your injury-related expenses. The exception is if you provoked the dog. The town of Columbia does impose breed-specific laws, and has a ban on Chow Chows, Rottweilers, and Dobermans.
Under the state’s Code of Laws, Section 47-3-110, dog bites and other dog-related injuries are covered. In South Carolina, the dog’s owner can be held liable for injuries the animal causes. The law applies to circumstances where a person is bitten as well as situations where someone is “otherwise attacked.” For example, if you are walking down the sidewalk and a dog runs out of a nearby yard, pounces on you, and knocks you to the floor, resulting in injuries, you can seek compensation from the dog’s owner.
This state imposes a law of strict liability. It means that the dog owner is responsible even if he or she was not aware and couldn’t have been aware that the dog would bite or attack. Other states also apply the one bite rule which dictates that the owner must know that the dog is dangerous, and also the negligence rule, which necessitates that the injuries resulted from the dog owner’s failure to use judicious care to control his or her dog.
The Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Lawsuits
In Columbia, S.C., if you are injured by a dog bite, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit in the civil court. This statute of limitations applies to all injury lawsuits in the state, including dog bites. If you file the lawsuit after the three-year period has passed by, the court is most likely to throw the case out without even considering it. That is why it is crucial that you understand and follow the deadline as it applies to your case if you are filing a claim for a dog bite injury.
Defense to a Dog Bite Injury Claim
If you are a dog owner who is faced with a dog bite claim, be aware that claims tend to raise one of two defenses: trespassing and provocation.
The state’s dog bite law states that if an injured person provoked a dog, the owner will not be liable for injuries. It’s worth noting that provocation can take several forms, like harassing, teasing, or abusing the dog. For example, if you put a large stick through the fence between your yard and your neighbor’s yard and proceed to poke the dog, making it angry, and it then jumps the fence to attack you, the dog’s owner can argue that you provoked the animal and he or she is therefore not liable for your injuries.
The other defense is trespassing, and it can apply in some dog attack cases. Our state’s law requires that an injured person lawfully be on private property, or be on public property when the injury happens. Someone who is on private property without permission and without any need to carry out a duty as imposed by law, like delivering the mail, is considered to be trespassing.
What Can You Recover from Your Dog Bite Lawsuit in South Carolina?
If you decide to bring a lawsuit against a dog owner to get compensation for your injury-related costs, you may be able to sue to recover the below expenses:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering, which sometimes includes a new fear of dogs, particularly in children who may suffer nightmares after an attack from a dog
- Lost income from treating the injury and also from any future lost income if you are incapacitated due to the attack
- Loss of consortium. This means that the injury associated with the dog bite, in some way, damaged your relationship with your partner or family.
Get Advice from an Attorney
If you have been bitten by a dog in Columbia, S.C., the attorneys at the Jeffcoat Firm will be able to guide you through the litigation process and help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.