Five Things You Need to Know About North Carolina's Dog Bite Laws

Undo North Carolina's dog bite laws, it can be difficult for the victim of a dog bite to successfully sue the dog's owner. However, if the attack occurred in the circumstances prescribed by the law, dogs by victims can recover medical expenses and more from the owner. Local, county, and state dog bite laws all apply to dog bite cases, making North Carolina's dog bite laws quite complicated. If you have been bitten by a dog in North Carolina, it is best that you consult with a dog bite attorney to see if there is a good chance that you will be successful in a lawsuit against the dog's owner. An attorney can also help you estimate the value of your case.

Statutory Liability for Dog Bites in North Carolina

North Carolina has a statutory dog bite law that applies when a dog attacks someone else or another animal. However, this law does not include strict liability for dogs that bite someone. In other words, you will not be able to automatically recover compensation because a dog bit you. Instead, North Carolina follows the "one bite" rule. You will need to prove that the dog's owner was guilty of willful misconduct, nuisance, or negligence. This is a more complex standard to prove, but in many cases, dog bite victims are able to prove the elements required to obtain compensation. A dog bite attorney can help you determine what course of action is the best to take in your case.

Common Law Liability for Dog Bite Laws

In addition to statutory law, there are common law legal principles that apply to dog bite cases. In order to establish the liability of the dog's owner, the victim needs to present evidence that the dog had shown dangerous activity in the past and that the dog's owner knew about these activities. However, it is not a requirement to prove that the dog had already been someone in the past to file a lawsuit. There can be other signs that a dog has a dangerous predisposition to be aggressive and bite someone. Working with an attorney can ensure that you investigate the case and gather evidence demonstrating that the dog had a violent propensity.

Dangerous Dogs

There are two types of dogs that are considered potentially dangerous dogs under North Carolina law. To be regarded as a dangerous dog, the dog must have the following:

  • Without any provocation, killed or infected or severely injured a person, which includes broken bones, lacerations, disfiguring injuries, and more
  • Been trained primarily for dog fighting, or
  • Been determined previously as potentially dangerous and continues on with the same behavior

If the dog inflicted an injury on someone posing as a threat, then the dog is not seen as dangerous.

The Legal Responsibilities of Dangerous Dog Owners

There are several legal responsibilities that dangerous dog owners need to remember. The owner needs to keep up with all these legal requirements to own the dog. They can be held financially liable for the victim's injuries when they fail to meet these requirements. First, dangerous dogs need to be kept indoors. If the owner does keep the dog outside, they need to be extremely secure and enclosed in a structure. 

The dog must stay on the owner's property lines unless it is properly restrained, muzzled, or leashed. Many dog bite incidents occur when a dangerous dog breaks free from its property and attacks a pedestrian on the road. When the owner of a dangerous dog does not follow these guidelines, they can be held financially responsible for the resulting injuries.

The Benefit of Working With a Skilled Attorney

As mentioned above, under North Carolina statutory and common law regarding dog bites, owners of dangerous dogs have certain legal obligations. If they fail to meet these obligations, the victim can hold the owner financially responsible for their injuries. Navigating North Carolina's dog bite laws takes work. 

It is important that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible so you can attend the filing deadline. Your attorney will be able to investigate your case and gather any evidence showing that the dog was a dangerous dog when it bit you. Reach out to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your free case evaluation. 

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