In South Carolina, the law on dog bites is governed by a combination of statutory provisions and legal principles. Woron and Dhillon, LLC, in Columbia, SC, can provide insight into the key aspects of dog bite laws in the state:
- Strict Liability: South Carolina follows a “strict liability” rule when it comes to dog bite cases. This means that dog owners can be held legally responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the dog has a history of aggression or if the owner was negligent in controlling the dog. In essence, the dog owner is held strictly liable for the actions of their dog.
- Trespasser Exception: The strict liability rule generally applies to individuals who are lawfully on public property or lawfully on private property, including the property of the dog owner. However, if someone is trespassing on private property and gets bitten by a dog, the dog owner may not be held strictly liable for the injuries. In such cases, the dog owner’s liability may be reduced or eliminated.
- One-Bite Rule: South Carolina does not follow the “one-bite rule,” which is a legal principle in some states that suggests a dog owner is only liable for injuries caused by their dog after the dog has shown a propensity for aggression or has a prior history of biting. In South Carolina, even a first-time bite can result in liability for the owner.
- Negligence Claims: While strict liability is a primary basis for dog bite claims, injured individuals may also pursue negligence claims against the dog owner if they can show that the owner’s actions or failures to control the dog were negligent and contributed to the attack. Negligence claims may seek additional damages beyond strict liability.
- Damages: If a dog bite victim prevails in a lawsuit, they may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages related to the injury.
- Defenses: Dog owners may have defenses in certain situations, such as if the person bitten was trespassing or committing a crime on the owner’s property. Additionally, if the dog was provoked or the victim was partially responsible for the attack, it could impact the dog owner’s liability.
It’s crucial for dog bite victims to document the incident by seeking prompt medical attention, reporting the attack to local animal control authorities, and preserving evidence, such as photographs of injuries and the dog involved. Consulting with our dog bite injury attorney at Woron and Dhillon, LLC, can help individuals understand their rights, navigate the legal process, and pursue compensation if they have a valid dog bite claim.