Dog bite injuries are far more common than most people realize, and they can cause devastating, long-term damage. Over 4.5 million dog bite injuries occur every year in the United States. Dog bites also cause approximately 316,200 emergency room visits and 9,500 hospital stays per year. Nearly one out of every five victims of dog bites require medical attention, and children are the most common victims and the most likely group to be severely injured by dog bites.
Under South Carolina law, dog owners are responsible for their pets. When a dog bites an innocent victim, the dog can be held liable for the victim’s injury through a personal injury law. Have you or your loved one been seriously injured because of a dog bite in South Carolina? If so, we recommend consulting with an attorney as soon as you can. The South Carolina dog bite lawyers at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite injuries can range from mild to severe. Some injuries can cause catastrophic damage resulting in long-term injuries. Children are especially vulnerable when it comes to dog bite injuries. When a dog attacks a child, the dog can cause permanent scarring and disfigurement. Some of the most common injuries caused by dog bites include the following:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Facial injuries
- Loss of toes and fingers
- Potential limb amputations
- Eye injuries
- Back and neck injuries
South Carolina’s Dog Bite Laws
Under South Carolina law, dog owners are liable for damages a person suffers after being attacked by their dog. Victims of dog bites can also hold a person taking care of the dog liable for damages. Victims injured in a public place or lawfully on a privately owned property can seek damages. For example, if a victim was visiting a friend’s house when the friend’s dog attacked him or her, the victim can pursue damages against the dog’s owner.
Victims cannot hold the dog owner liable when they provoked, attacked, or harassed the dog before the dog bite occurred. Additionally, a victim cannot sue if the dog’s owner was working in a law enforcement capacity, the dog was properly trained and certified, and the dog didn’t attack a third-party bystander.
The Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites
There is a three-year statute of limitations for these types of claims in South Carolina. If a dog bite has injured you or your loved one, you will need to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner or caretaker within three years of the date of the injury. It’s important to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer soon as you can so your lawyer can investigate and gather evidence. You don’t want to unintentionally miss your opportunity to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve.
Can Victims Hold Landlords Liable?
What happens if your landlord’s negligence resulted in a dog bite from one of your neighbor’s dogs? The Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled that dog bite victims can hold a landlord liable for dog bite injuries in certain circumstances. The victim must be a licensee or invitee on the property when the attack occurs. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal Residential Landlord-Tenant Act requires landlords to keep the common areas of their apartment complexes in a reasonably safe condition.
Keeping apartment complexes reasonably safe includes taking steps to prevent injuries. If you’ve been injured by a dog bite in an apartment complex, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against your landlord for damages, even if your landlord did not own the dog.
Mini dog bite injuries are resolved through insurance settlements. Many homeowners insurance policies cover dog bite-related injuries. In some cases, insurance companies will offer victims quick settlements. Typically, the insurance company’s first offer will be far too low and won’t cover all of the victim’s damages from the dog bite. When car accident victims accept a settlement, they often discover that the amount will not cover their future medical costs.
Insurance companies may argue that the victim provoked the dog or was otherwise responsible for his or her injuries, denying the claim. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to claim that the dog owner couldn’t have prevented the injury to avoid paying compensation. If the insurance company doesn’t offer you a fair settlement amount, your lawyer can take your case to trial. There is always a possibility that you will be able to settle your case before the trial begins.
Successful plaintiffs are entitled to non-economic and economic damages in South Carolina. Economic damages include easily quantifiable costs, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages include more subjective types of harm, such as pain and suffering and disfigurement. In rare cases, victims may be entitled to additional punitive damages. Our law firm works with financial experts to help you determine the total cost of your damages so you can recover the full amount of damages you deserve in your case.
Contact a South Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Have you ever loved ones suffered severe injuries after a dog bite attack? If so, you may be entitled to compensation that will pay for all of your medical expenses, property damage, and lost income. You can also recover compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured from the dog bite. Contact Buyck & Williams, PA today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can help you pursue the damages you deserve.