7-Year-Old Dies From Pit Bull Attack

In January, a 7-year-old in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was mauled to death by a pit bull. She tragically died from blunt and sharp force injuries due to the mauling. The dog’s owner has been charged with negligent homicide for failing to confine or restrain the dog. The dog was roaming the neighborhood at the time of the attack. Documents show that the girl was playing outside at her relative’s home. Her relative tried to stop the dog but could not stop the attack. Documents also show no barrier or fence to keep the dog confined. Unfortunately, this case is one of many recent child deaths resulting from dog attacks.

Understanding North Carolina’s Dog Bite Laws

Dog bite injury claims can be difficult to pursue in North Carolina. However, if you have been injured, or your loved one has died in a dog bite injury, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against the owner. Under North Carolina dog bite law, the injured victim must prove one or both of the following:

  • The dog was dangerous
  • The owner was negligence

The victim will need to prove liability when pursuing a personal injury claim after a dog bite incident. There are three main categories of liability related to dog bite cases in North Carolina.

Wrongfully Keeping a Vicious Dog or Animal

When the victim can prove that the defendant was wrongfully keeping a vicious dog or animal, they can prove liability. To do so, the plaintiff needs to show that the dog or animal who caused his or her injuries had a known propensity for aggression based on its previous history. In other words, the plaintiff needs to prove that the dog owner knew or at least should have known that the animal was dangerous.

For example, if the dog had snarled and shown its teeth at children playing on the sidewalk before or had bitten someone previously, the owner knew or should have known that the animal was dangerous. The owner may claim that he or she did not know the dog was dangerous. Working with an attorney is important because an attorney can investigate, conduct witness interviews, and gather other evidence showing that the dog has a propensity for violence and that any reasonable dog owner would have known about it.

Violation of Leash Ordinances

Most cities and towns in North Carolina have leash laws requiring owners to keep their pets on leashes in public areas. If a dog attacks someone else while unleashed, the victim can prove negligence per se. Negligence per se occurs when a person violates a law intended to prevent the type of harm the victim endured. Leash laws are intended to protect passers-by from violent animals. The owner will not have to prove negligence when the owner does not use a leash on a dog and causes an injury. They will only have to prove the value of the damages caused by the dog bite.

Strict Liability for Injuries Inflected By a “Dangerous Dog”

Under North Carolina law, a dangerous dog is a dog that has inflicted severe injury or killed a person without provocation. Generally, local animal control authorities make this determination. If a dangerous animal inflicts these injuries again, the dog's owner can be held strictly liable for damages. According to the legal doctrine of strict liability, an injured dog bite victim does not have to approve that the owner was negligent to recover compensation. Instead, the victim only needs to show that the dog was dangerous and caused injuries.

Damages Available in Dog Bite Cases

Some dog bites are mild and may not even require stitches. Other dog bites cause severe, debilitating injuries or fatal injuries. The medical bills can easily pile up when children are injured in dog bite cases. They may need multiple surgeries, including reconstructive surgeries.

Victims of dog bite accidents can pursue compensation for current and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of income due to disability, and other costs like transportation expenses to and from doctor's appointments. They can also pursue compensation for pain and suffering. If your loved one was killed in a dog bite incident, you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit and recover funeral and burial expenses and other damages.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Dog Bite Attorney

If you were your loved one has been seriously injured in a dog bite incident or mauling incident, it is crucial that you reach out to an experienced attorney. Contact the skilled dog bite injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule your free case evaluation. We represent clients in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.

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