Dogs can be excellent companions, and many of us treat our furry friends like family. But although most dogs are extremely loving and make great pets, some have a tendency to bite – and those bites can lead to serious injury or even death.
Approximately 4.7 million people suffer dog bite injuries each year in the United States, and 10-20 of those die from their injuries. Many of the victims are children.
In 2016, State Farm ranked South Carolina #19 in the nation for dog bites, with $1.7 million paid out on 68 dog bite claims – and that’s only a fraction of the bites and claims that took place that year.
Common physical injuries caused by dog bites include abrasions, puncture wounds, lacerations, tissue loss, crush injuries, fractures, sprains, strains, disfigurements, and infections. Dog bites can also lead to emotional pain and suffering, including post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias such as the fear of dogs.
If you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, your first priority should be to seek medical help. This is extremely important in order to assess your wounds and prevent any infections from occurring.
You should also make sure the incident is properly documented, by taking photos of your wounds and reporting the dog attack to authorities. You should try to identify the dog’s owner and make a list of witnesses, if there are any.
It is important to protect yourself financially in the event of a dog attack, ensuring your current and future medical bills are covered. Damages are typically paid to the victim by the dog owner’s home insurance policy, but owners can be held personally responsible if they do not have insurance coverage. In some cases, other parties such as landlords and previous owners of the dog can be held at least partially liable.
Many states have a “one bite rule” – meaning the dog’s owner is held liable only if they knew or should have known that the dog was potentially dangerous or had a propensity to attack – but South Carolina does not.
The absence of that rule means that dog bite victims in South Carolina can sue for damages even if the dog was not previously known to be aggressive. However, the victim must not have provoked the dog or been trespassing at the time of the attack.
It is important to note that payouts in dog bite cases are rarely straightforward, which is why it is highly recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney if you’ve been the victim of a dog attack. Only a qualified lawyer can build a strong case and fight stubborn insurance companies, increasing your chances of receiving the maximum amount of compensation possible.
The personal injury attorneys at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates have been representing South Carolina dog bite victims for more than four decades. If you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, we would love to speak with you. Give us a call at 803-573-3894 for a free case evaluation. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®