Understanding South Carolina Dog Bite Laws

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If someone’s dog attacked you or a family member, it’s essential to understand how South Carolina dog bite laws provide options for you to recover from the harm caused. The Law Office of Taylor S. Braithwaite will help you choose and pursue the most effective course of action to obtain both justice and compensation.

When South Carolina Dog Owners Are Liable for Injuries Caused by Their Pets

The owners of a dog that caused harm to someone could be held liable in the Palmetto State even if they believed their animal would never bite anyone. Based on South Carolina’s strict liability rules, dog owners who believe they acted responsibly could still find themselves liable for the harm their animals cause.

South Carolina does not follow the “one-bite rule” many other states follow. An animal may have never shown any previous aggressiveness before an attack, but the law could still find its owner liable if it causes harm.

A dog does not need to bite you for its owner to be held liable. A large and overly playful dog could, for example, run out of a yard and knock you over while you’re walking by. If the dog caused you to fall and suffer an injury, you may pursue compensation from the owner for the harm and medical costs even though no actual bite occurred.

Owner Liability for Dog Bites

Owner liability applies when a dog bites anyone on public or private property who did not in any way provoke the animal. Dog owners may, however, attempt to defend themselves from liability by claiming that you teased or somehow provoked the animal before it attacked.

Although dog owners may evade liability if the individual attacked by their animal was trespassing on their property, this defense would not apply if the individual entered the property to deliver mail or a package. Property owners should post a warning sign if there’s any possibility their animals might attack an unknown individual who enters the property to perform a work-related task.

In addition to compensation for the related medical costs, the civil court system could also find a dog owner liable for the pain and suffering caused by a severe bite injury. You may also recover the income lost if you need to take time off from work.

Dog owners should check their homeowner’s insurance policy to review the coverage.

A homeowners policy may cover the medical costs if the owner’s dog bites someone. Depending on the policy, it may provide coverage even if the dog bite occurs somewhere other than on the owner’s property. Some policies may, however, exclude certain dog breeds such as pit bulls from coverage based on their tendency to display aggressive behavior.

It’s a good idea for homeowners to familiarize themselves with their policy’s compensation limits. If an injured party’s medical expenses exceed the limits stated on the policy, owners can find themselves personally liable for the balance.

What To Do if a Dog Bites You

You should consider seeking medical attention for a dog bite even if it does not appear serious at first, as it could develop into an infection. Canine saliva can contain and transmit harmful bacteria and viruses, regardless of whether the dog appears healthy. Seeing a doctor will also provide documentation of the injury, which could become important during a follow-up investigation by an insurance company.

If for any reason you do not seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite, get to an emergency room or see a doctor as soon as possible if the bite wound becomes swollen or shows signs of pus, or if a fever develops. You should also seek medical attention If you do not know the owner of a dog that bit you; it may have been a rabid animal running loose.

It’s important to document a dog bite injury as thoroughly as possible.

If you intend to seek compensation for the harm caused by a dog bite injury under South Carolina dog bite laws, gathering as much documentation as possible can add weight to your claim. In addition to your doctor’s invoices and medical reports, you can take pictures of your injuries and maintain an image-based journal of your recovery. Any way that you can demonstrate how the animal attack affected you could help you obtain compensation for the related pain and suffering.

South Carolina requires dog bite reporting.

Under South Carolina dog bite laws, the Palmetto State requires healthcare providers to report animal bites that need medical attention to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. Doctors must submit an Animal Incident Report Form before the end of the next workday following treatment for an animal bite.

Dog bite victims can also file their report with the police or local animal control office. In some cases, a dog owner may offer to personally cover all of your medical expenses if you refrain from filing an official report. Doing so could, however, work against you if the issue progresses to a court case or insurance company investigation.

Dog Bites Can Cause Major Injuries

Certain dog breeds have powerful jaws that can cause severe injuries or fatalities when they attack. Even small dogs could cause serious and permanent harm to children.

Some of the injuries that can result from a dog bite attack include:

  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Dangerous infections such as tetanus or rabies
  • Broken bones
  • Permanent scarring
  • Muscle and nerve damage

Owners of dangerous dogs could face criminal penalties.

When owners of a pet designated as a dangerous dog fail to comply with the applicable public safety rules, they may face criminal charges if their animal injures someone or another animal. A severe dog attack, especially in cases involving children, can lead to life-altering circumstances for the victim and felony charges for the animal owner.

Speak with a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

Your choice of an attorney can make a significant difference in how a dog attack case turns out. Contact us to discuss your situation and you’ll find that TSB Injury Law believes in responsive, determined, and understanding representation. We’re a veteran-owned law firm built on years of injury case experience and the discipline that comes from our founder Taylor Braithwaite’s military service. Count on us to fight hard for your needs and recovery goals.


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