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Can You Sue Over a Dog Bite in North Carolina?

aggressive dog showing teeth

A dog attack can cause permanent physical and emotional injury. If you are attacked by a dog, can you sue its owner?

In March 2017, a North Charlotte man was jumped by another dog while walking with his service dog in his own neighborhood. Both the man and his dog were seriously injured. Media reports note that Animal Control officers responded to 1,500 dog attacks in Mecklenburg County in 2016, with at least 700 of those attacks considered as “moderate or severe.”  The numbers represent a 13 percent increase over dog attacks in 2015.

Our law firm regularly works with clients injured by being bitten or knocked down by aggressive dogs. On its annual dog attack rankings released in April 2017, the U.S. Postal Service lists Charlotte as 17th on a list of 30 cities with high dog attack statistics.

North Carolina dog bite laws can be complicated, but working with a personal injury attorney after an attack saves time and provides invaluable support. Liability (meaning the responsibility to pay) for an injury caused by a dog is specific in our state. The so-called “one-bite rule” in North Carolina means that dog owners are not liable for injuries caused by their animals if they did not previously know the dog was dangerous. This rule makes claims for compensation more difficult if a dog, especially one of a certain breed, attacks a person with no provocation. Only 18 states in the country still follow this one-bite rule.

In North Carolina, another provision spells out conditions under which dog bite injury victims may recover compensation. The following specific circumstances under this law may make a dog owner liable:

  • If the dog is over six months old
  • If the animal is running loose, or “at large” at night
  • If no one responsible for the dog is present

Collecting evidence, such as earlier reports of a dog bite or attack, is particularly important because few dog owners admit to knowing that their dog is dangerous.

Even without these specific circumstances, compensation for injuries from a dog attack is attainable by proving that the owner was reasonably responsible to act in a way that would have prevented the attack.

If a dog attacks you, contact Animal Control authorities and take pictures of your injuries, the scene, and the dog, if possible. Seek medical attention and follow your doctor’s advice for follow-up. If you can, ask witnesses, neighbors, or others for their names and contact information so they can provide statements to bolster your case.

Seeking help from a personal injury attorney experienced with dog bite law is important after an attack. When you have questions, call the Lanier Law Group, P.A. toll free at 855-234-7619 for answers and a free consultation. Contact us today; we have 11 locations to serve you.

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