Dog Bite Cases in Lugoff, SC: What Victims Need to Know

January 15, 2024

Dog bites can inflict significant physical and emotional trauma, leaving victims grappling with the aftermath. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog in Lugoff, navigating the legal landscape can feel daunting.

This article examines dog bite laws in South Carolina and how a Lugoff personal injury lawyer can help victims obtain the compensation they deserve.

South Carolina’s Dog Bite Law

Under South Carolina’s dog bite law, an owner is held “strictly liable” when their canine bites or otherwise injures someone who is in a public place or lawfully on private property. Dog owners are legally responsible for any injuries regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the specific circumstances of the attack.

This eliminates the need to prove the owner’s negligence or knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. The only exceptions to this strict liability rule are situations where the victim provoked the dog or trespassed on the owner’s property.

While the concept of strict liability simplifies your legal burden as a dog bite victim in Lugoff, understanding the specific laws and statutes that govern your case empowers you to make informed decisions.

Strict Liability Explained

South Carolina Code Section 47-3-110 states that dog owners, or those responsible for the dog’s care at the time of the attack, are strictly liable for any injuries caused by the dog “while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place.” This means the owner faces automatic liability, regardless of their knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies or prior bite history.

Lawful Presence in Private Places

The law extends beyond public spaces, encompassing situations where you were lawfully present on private property when the attack occurred. This includes:

  • Performing a duty imposed by law: Mail carriers, meter readers, and law enforcement officers fall under this category.
  • Express or implied invitation: Being a guest, delivery person, or repair technician on the property qualifies as an implied invitation.
  • Emergency responders: Responding to an emergency on the property grants lawful presence.

Defenses: Exceptions to Strict Liability

Although the law favors victims, there are a few instances where dog owners may escape liability.

  • Provocation: If your actions, such as teasing or threatening the dog, directly triggered the attack, the owner’s responsibility may be lessened or negated.
  • Trespassing: Entering the property without permission or exceeding the scope of an invitation may jeopardize your claim.

Addressing Dangerous Animals

South Carolina Code Section 47-3-760 empowers local governments to designate certain dogs as “dangerous animals” based on past attacks or exhibited aggressive tendencies. Owners of such animals face stricter regulations, including mandatory registration, muzzling, and secure confinement.

If the dog that bit you was deemed dangerous, it may lead to additional penalties for the owner.

owners of aggressive dogs are liable to pay damages to bite victims

Building a Compelling Case

Successfully pursuing a dog bite claim in Lugoff, South Carolina requires establishing specific elements.

Proving You Were Bitten

  • Witness accounts: Corroborating testimonies from individuals who witnessed the attack can strengthen your case.
  • Medical records: Documentation of the bite wound, including its location, severity, and treatment provided, serves as vital medical evidence.
  • Photographic evidence: Pictures of the bite wound, if appropriate and safe to capture, can offer visual confirmation of the injury.

Showing You Didn’t Provoke the Animal

  • Your statement: Provide a clear and factual account of the events leading up to the bite, highlighting any actions that support the absence of provocation on your part.
  • Witness testimonies: Statements from bystanders who can attest to your peaceful or passive behavior before the attack can be invaluable.
  • Surveillance footage: If available, security camera footage or doorbell recordings can potentially corroborate your statement and refute any claims of provocation.

Linking the Bite to Your Injuries and Damages

  • Medical records: Comprehensive medical documentation, including diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis, establishes a direct link between the bite and the resulting injuries.
  • Expert testimony: In complex cases, consulting with medical professionals can provide expert opinions on the causal relationship between the bite and the victim’s physical and psychological ailments.

Compensation: Seeking Restitution

You may be entitled to various forms of compensation aimed at alleviating the physical, emotional, and financial burdens you have endured.

  • Medical Expenses: Recovering the cost of treating the bite wound, any necessary surgeries, ongoing medical care, and potential rehabilitation is crucial.
  • Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, compensation for lost income and benefits can help mitigate the financial strain.
  • Pain and Suffering: The physical and emotional distress caused by the bite, including fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, can be compensated for.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Permanent scarring or disfigurement resulting from the bite can have a significant impact on your life and may warrant additional compensation.

Call an Experienced Lugoff Dog Bite Lawyer Today

While the strict liability statute in South Carolina offers valuable legal footing, navigating the complexities of a dog bite case can be challenging. A qualified Lugoff, SC personal injury attorney at Connell Law Firm can protect your rights and help you obtain the maximum compensation.

Contact us at 803-310-5700 for a free injury case evaluation.