If you are bitten or attacked by a dog in SC, the Charleston dog bite lawyers at the Boles Law Firm may be able to help you to recover compensation for your injuries.
The dog bite lawyers at the Boles Law Firm have the experience that you need to recover full and fair compensation for dog attacks in SC. For example, in one recent case, we obtained a $75,000 judgment for a dog bite client (your damages may be more or less depending on the severity of your injuries and the facts of your case).
Whether you were attacked by someone’s pet animal or a K9/ police dog, you may have a claim for damages. Below, we will go over the basics of dog bite liability in SC, including:
- Strict liability for dog bites under SC law,
- Defenses to dog bite lawsuits,
- What to do if you are attacked by a dog, and
- When police are liable for K9 attacks in SC.
Dog Bite Attorneys in Charleston, SC
Can you sue if you are attacked by a dog in SC?
You can sue after a dog bite – even better, SC Code Section 47-3-110 provides for strict liability when you are 1) attacked by a dog 2) in a public place or while you are lawfully in a private place:
(A) If a person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping, the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked.
If the dog is not leashed or contained within the owner’s yard, the owner or keeper of the dog is strictly liable for any damage that is caused when their dog escapes or is allowed to wander the neighborhood.
What Does “Lawfully in a Private Place” Mean?
“Lawfully in a private place” includes the property of the dog owner or the person keeping the dog.
If you are trespassing, however, you are not lawfully in a private place. For example, if you jump someone’s fence and their dog attacks you, that’s on you. But, if the property is not posted and you are approaching the front door, you are not trespassing.
“Lawfully in a private place” also expressly includes government employees who are performing their duties, like postal workers, law enforcement officers, EMS workers, or utility workers:
For the purposes of this section, a person bitten or otherwise attacked is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping, when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property in the performance of a duty imposed upon the person by the laws of this State, the ordinances of a political subdivision of this State, the laws of the United States of America including, but not limited to, postal regulations, or when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the property owner or a lawful tenant or resident of the property.
Defenses to Strict Liability for Dog Bites in SC
There are some defenses to dog bite lawsuits in SC:
- There is no liability if the person who was bitten or attacked “provoked or harassed the dog and that provocation was the proximate cause of the attack.” If you are provoking or harassing a dog, that’s on you.
- There is also no liability if “the dog was working in a law enforcement capacity with a governmental agency and in the performance of the dog’s official duties,” if the dog was following a lawful command, the dog was trained and certified, there was a written policy in place, the dog or handler did not violate the policy, the attack was not the use of excessive force by the handler, and the victim was not an innocent bystander.
- Trespassing – if you were not “lawfully in a private place” when the dog attacked you, you cannot sue the dog’s owner for damages. Although a dog’s owner or keeper must take steps to protect the public from harm, they are under no obligation to protect a trespasser from harm, and one valid reason that people keep dogs is to protect from trespassers and would-be burglars…
If you were attacked by a police dog, you will need a Charleston dog bite lawyer who has experience filing civil rights claims against police departments, and you may need to file a lawsuit under the SC Tort Claims Act or an 42 USC §1983 action for violation of your civil rights.
Attractive Nuisance and Dog Bites
Trespassing may not be a defense if a child is attacked by a dog – when a hazard on someone’s property (like a dog that wants to be petted) is an “attractive nuisance” that would cause a child to trespass, the homeowner is obligated to take additional steps to prevent children from accessing the hazard.
Types of Damages You Can Recover After a Dog Bite in SC
Your dog bite lawyers at the Boles Law Firm may be able to help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries, including:
- Your medical expenses, ER bill, hospital bills, doctor’s bills, medical equipment, and medications,
- Your pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Corrective surgeries or compensation for scarring, and
- Punitive damages when appropriate.
What to Do if You are Attacked by a Dog in SC
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog in SC, get medical attention immediately – dog bites can be severe and can become infected if not treated quickly.
If you can do so safely, take pictures of the animal, the injuries, and the area where the dog bite happened. Get names and contact information for any potential witnesses and locate the dog’s owner or keeper if possible.
Once you are safe and your injuries have been treated, get in touch with a Charleston, SC dog bite attorney immediately so we can begin investigating and identify the responsible parties.
Are Pit Bulls Inherently Dangerous?
No dog breed is considered inherently dangerous under SC law – any dog can become aggressive. When pit bulls are bred and trained to fight, they should be considered dangerous. When pit bulls are kept as the family pet, they are among the most lovable, loyal, and friendly family dogs that you can find.
Any dog breed can become deadly, however. If someone’s pet pit bull attacks you, the owner or keeper is liable just as they would be if their pet golden shepherd attacked you. Every dog’s owner is responsible for properly training their animal and for keeping the public safe from potential attacks.
Dog Bite Lawyers in Charleston, SC
The Charleston dog bite and civil rights attorneys at the Boles Law Firm can help you to determine liability, gather the evidence you will need in court, negotiate with any insurance companies, and recover the maximum compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries.
Call us at 843-576-5775 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at our North Charleston or Walterboro offices or send us a message through our website.