South Carolina has victim-friendly dog bite laws that allow you to hold a dog owner strictly liable for an attack even if the dog has never before acted aggressively. This law allows you to collect damages to pay for your medical treatment, cover your lost wages from time missed at work, and pay for other related expenses and losses.
A dog bite lawyer in Columbia, SC at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers can help you understand the criteria you must meet to be eligible to file this type of claim and build a case that may allow you to win a payout from the insurance company or in court. We offer free case reviews and will handle your Columbia dog bite case based on contingency. This means you pay nothing upfront and do not owe us unless we win your case.*
Call us today at 803-999-2993 for your complimentary consultation with a member of our team.
Recoverable Damages in a Columbia Dog Bite Claim
Many people think of dog attacks as relatively minor, but they can cause severe injuries and lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement. Some of the most common injuries our clients suffer in canine attacks include:
- Deep puncture wounds
- Torn flesh and soft tissues
- Broken bones
- Nerve, tendon, and ligament damage
- Emotional trauma and mental anguish
Treating the physical injuries and facing the emotional turmoil after a dog bite can cost thousands of dollars. Depending on the strength of your case, you may be able to recover a range of damages to cover these expenses as well as your noneconomic losses. Some of the most common damages available for dog bite victims in Columbia include:
- Medical expenses, including treatment and hospitalization
- Physical therapy and other necessary outpatient treatment
- Reconstructive surgery, when needed
- Future care costs
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity, when applicable
- The cost of emotional counseling to overcome the trauma
- Pain and suffering damages
- Mental anguish
South Carolina’s Dog Bite Statute Explained
Section 47-3-110 of the South Carolina Code outlines the state’s dog bite laws. Under this statute, victims can hold the dog’s owner liable for their injuries without proving the dog had a history of vicious or aggressive behavior. This is in direct contrast to the law that applies in many states, sometimes called the “one bite rule.” This makes it much easier to recover compensation for your injuries in South Carolina than in states that still follow the one bite law.
Under South Carolina’s statute, we may be able to hold the dog owner financially responsible for your expenses and losses if we can definitively show:
- The dog bit or attacked you in some way;
- You suffered injuries because of the dog attack;
- You were in a public place, had a duty to be where you were, or had permission; and
- You did not provoke the dog in any way
Proving Liability in a Columbia, SC Dog Bite Case
In general, there are four ways the dog owner and their homeowner’s insurance company may challenge our claim. We need to provide evidence to counter these challenges, as well as to prove the full value of your damages.
Possible challenges to this type of claim include:
The Dog Did Not Attack You
Especially when the attack happens in a public place where there are a number of dogs, such as a dog park, the owner may claim it was another dog that caused your injuries. Filing a report with animal control or calling police immediately after the attack can help to establish the dog in question as the attacker.
You Did Not Suffer Your Injuries in the Attack
The owner or his insurance company may question whether your injuries really occurred in the dog attack. For this reason, we recommend getting medical attention immediately following the attack, and documenting your injuries in photographs as well as through your medical records.
You Did Not Have Permission to Be on the Property
In some cases, dog owners will claim you trespassed on their property, and the attack occurred while you were on their property illegally. To counter this, we will need to show:
- You were not on their property;
- You had a duty to be on their property, such as when making a delivery; or
- They invited you onto their property
You Provoked the Dog
The most common way dog owners challenge these claims is to accuse the victim of teasing, harassing, or otherwise provoking the animal into attacking them. This is also the most difficult challenge to counter, but we can help you prove your story and defend you against this type of accusation.
Navigating the Columbia, SC Dog Bite Claims Process
After we investigate your case and collect evidence to counter any potential challenges, we will write a demand letter and send it to the insurance company that represents the dog owner. This letter will explain our case against their policyholder, as well as explain the evidence we have to support our demand for damages.
This often leads to settlement negotiations, and we may be able to reach a fair settlement agreement with the insurance company during this process. If it will not agree to a fair payout, or if it denies our claim, we have the resources and experience necessary to litigate your case in a South Carolina civil court.
We usually have three years from the date of the attack to file a lawsuit against the dog owner and ask the judge or jury to determine if you deserve just compensation for your injuries and other related damages. If we do not take action before this deadline passes, the court will likely bar us from holding the owner liable in a civil suit.
Talk to a Dog Bite Lawyer in Columbia, SC About Your Attack and Injuries
If you, your child, or another immediate family member suffered injuries in a Columbia, SC dog attack, the team from George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers might be able to help you recover compensation to cover your treatment, lost wages, and other losses. We offer free case evaluations. Call us at 803-999-2993 to talk to a member of our team and get started today.