Dog Bite Injuries Continue to Be a Serious Problem

Injuries caused by dog bites continue to be serious health risks for adults and children. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly in the US. Of those who are bitten, more than 800,000 require medical attention for their injuries.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that at least half of dog bite victims are children. In addition to being the most common victims of dog bites, children are also the most likely to be severely injured. Even the sweetest, most calm dog has the potential to bite a human if they are provoked or scared. Unfortunately, many dog bites are preventable. If a dog bite seriously injures you or your child, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

North Carlina’s Dog Bite Law

Every state has its own law related to dog bites and liability for injuries caused by them. North Carolina statute 67-4 .4 deals with the liability of dog owners related to dog bites. North Carolina is one of 18 states that has a one-bite rule. Under this rule, a dog bite victim will not be able to recover compensation through a personal injury claim against the dog's owner unless they can prove that the dog has previously bitten or attacked someone and is considered a “dangerous dog.” Specifically, it states that the owner of a dangerous dog is liable for any property damage or injury inflicted on another person, property, or animal. A dangerous dog is defined as a dog that has done the following:

  • Severely injured or killed a person, or
  • The municipal board, county, or person responsible for animal control determines it is dangerous because it engaged in at least one of these behaviors:
    • Bit someone and caused a disfiguring laceration, a broken bone, required hospitalization or cosmetic surgery
    • While not on the owner’s property, approached someone in a vicious or terrorizing manner that signified a potential attack, or
    • Caused severe injury or fatality of a domestic animal or livestock on property other than the owners
Recovering Compensation Under the Legal Theory of Strict Liability

North Carolina is considered a strict liability state regarding dog bites. Dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries their dogs cause when the dog is regarded as a dangerous dog. In other words, as long as the victim can prove that the dog meets the definition of a dangerous dog and that the dog bit them, they are entitled to compensation. The victim will not have to prove that the owner failed to take reasonable care to protect others. Regardless of the dog owner's actions, the victim can recover compensation if the dog is considered dangerous.

Exceptions to North Carolina’s One-Bite Rule

What happens when a dog bites a person but does not meet the definition of a dangerous dog under North Carolina's dog bite statute? It may still be possible for the victim to recover compensation, but it can be challenging. There are some exceptions to the one-bite rule. For example, when a dog was running at large and bitten someone, the victim may be entitled to compensation even if the dog was not considered a dangerous stop.

It is illegal for dog owners to allow dogs over six months old to run at large at night time without the owner in North Carolina. If the dog is older than six months and was running around at night without the owner or another adult who was supervising the dog with the owner's permission and bites someone, the victim can pursue compensation.

Potentially Dangerous Dogs

Additionally, victims may be able to hold a dog owner strictly liable for their injuries if the dog is considered potentially dangerous. Dogs are considered dangerous or potentially dangerous if they meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • The dog has been trained to fight
  • The dog has previously killed or severely injured someone
  • The dog previously terrorized or harassed someone who was not on their property, such as following someone and acting aggressively or growling
  • The dog has killed her and injured another domestic animal
  • The dog bit someone resulting in disfigurement or broken bones

When a dog is considered dangerous, owners have other obligations, including confining the dog in an enclosed structure and keeping it on a leash whenever it leaves the owner's property.

Contact a Charlotte Dog Bite Attorney

If you have been injured in a dog bite, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are here to help. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for your rights.

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