If you or someone you love was the victim of a dog bite injury in Charlotte, contact DeMayo Law Offices to learn about your legal options. We know what your rights are and how to protect them. When you hire us, we’ll fight hard to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering you endured. We believe in holding people responsible for their careless actions.
Nearly 5 million people get bitten by a dog every year in the United States. Despite a majority of those resulting in minimal injuries, there are close to 800,000 victims who need medical care each year and approximately 40 fatalities, according to the non-profit group, DogsBite.org.
When a dog bites someone, their teeth could easily break the skin and damage tissue, muscle, tendons, and nerves. It’s a traumatic experience that could negatively impact your opinion of that particular breed or all dogs for the rest of your life.
The Charlotte dog bite lawyers from DeMayo Law Offices will file an insurance claim or a lawsuit on your behalf and negotiate the maximum settlement available. You should be able to hold the negligent party accountable, and we’ll make sure they pay you the money you deserve. To find out more about how we can help you in your dog bite case, call us at (704) 333-1000 today.
Dangerous Dog Laws in North Carolina
Every state has a different set of laws that pertain to dangerous dog breeds and what happens when one bites a person and causes bodily harm. North Carolina statute 67-4.4 states that the owner of a dangerous dog becomes liable for injury or property damage inflicted on another animal, property, or a person.
North Carolina statute 67-4.1 defines a dangerous dog as one that:
- Severely injured or killed a person; or
- The municipal board, county, or person responsible for animal control determines is dangerous because it engaged in at least one of these behaviors:
- Bit someone and caused a disfiguring laceration, 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 owner’s.
Charlotte and other cities in North Carolina are also able to enforce their own dog bite rules. Along with state laws, city and town officials can implement things like the use of a leash and which areas dogs can go.
If you’re unfamiliar with dog bite laws, it can be confusing. Generally speaking, if there’s an unprovoked attack by another person’s dog and you require medical attention, you might qualify for compensation from the owner of the dog or the property owner’s insurance policy. You must have an injury that resulted in damages, such as a hospital or x-ray bill. You can’t seek a monetary award if you only sustained a small wound that healed without medical intervention.
What Type of Injuries Justify Filing a Claim?
State laws say that you’re allowed to file an insurance claim for an injury or property damage that happened as a result of someone’s dangerous dog biting or attacking you. Most claims will involve an injury instead of property damage. Dog attacks can lead to serious injuries, such as:
- Broken bones
- Lacerations, puncture wounds, deep cuts
- Torn flesh, muscle, and soft tissue
- Rabies, tetanus, or bacterial sepsis
- Impact injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, concussion, back or spinal damage, and cuts.
Injuries like the ones listed above could require a trip to the emergency room. Some people end up needing cosmetic surgery, especially if the dog bit them in the face. Other people suffer from long-term effects like disfigurement, disability, or PTSD.
Take Immediate Action After a Dog Bites You
Go to the doctor. Seek treatment at an emergency room or urgent care facility. If necessary, call 911 for paramedics to pick you up from the scene, or ask a friend or family member to drive you.
Keep the dog secured. If a stray dog bit you, block their escape route, or find a way to keep them confined to one area so they can’t run away or hurt anyone else. If you know who the owner is, notify them that their dog attacked you, and get their contact information.
File a report. If you’re in a public place, you can ask to speak to the manager and file an incident report. Ask for their name, phone number, and the business’s liability insurance information.
Call the police or animal control. If necessary, call 911 or animal control. If the injury is severe, law enforcement should get involved. Dangerous breeds with a history of attacking people shouldn’t be in the owner’s control.
File a claim. You can file an insurance claim for compensation from the dog owner or insurance carrier of the property where the bite occurred. A dog bite falls under the category of premises liability, which means the property owner can be held financially responsible for injuries.
Hire a lawyer. Contact DeMayo Law Offices, and speak with one of our Charlotte dog bite lawyers. Seeking legal representation increases your chance of winning a settlement. If you choose to pursue the case alone, you risk walking away with much less money or none at all.
The Value of a Dog Bite Case
When you file an insurance claim, the insurance adjuster will review different factors and evidence you submit to them to determine how much money you deserve.
Typically, the more severe the injury, the higher the compensation.
Factors that could lead to a larger settlement include:
- Medical care expenses
- Permanent injury, such as an amputation resulting from sepsis after the attack
- Necessary treatment over an extended period
- Broken bones
- Treatment by an M.D.
- Long duration for recovery
- Diminished quality of life due to missing out on time with family, canceling a vacation, or spending a lot of time in pain
- Prescription medication to relieve or manage symptoms from the dog bite
Factors that could result in a small financial award include:
- Most medical bills are evaluations to diagnosis your injury instead of actual treatment
- Fewer appointments for treatment
- Lack of a permanent injury, disfigurement, or disability
- No emotional suffering due to the dog bite
- Short period spent recovering
- Treatment from non-M.D. providers
- Soft tissue injuries, such as a sprain or bruise
- No prescribed medications
Damages You’re Entitled to After a Dog Attack in Charlotte
If a dog attacks you and you get hurt, you’re allowed to seek compensation for your total damages.
Economic damages are expenses and include things such as:
- Medical bills
- Out of pocket costs
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Lost future wages
Non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as:
- Psychological or emotional trauma
- Physical pain
- Disfigurement or disability
- Loss of care or companionship
Punitive damages are often the result of negligent or egregious actions. Unlike economic and non-economic damages that reimburse injured victims for their losses, punitive damages aim to punish the liable party. It’s not a common form of damages people receive, but it’s possible if the circumstances of the situation are entirely horrific.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against the Dog Owner?
If an insurance claim isn’t enough, and you believe the dog owner should face financial punishment for their actions that resulted in their dog biting you, it’s your right to do so. To sue the dog owner, you’ll need to follow North Carolina’s statute of limitations for personal injury. Anyone who sustains an injury can pursue civil action against the responsible party within three years from the date of the incident.
If the statute of limitations passes and you haven’t filed a lawsuit, you likely won’t have the opportunity to pursue compensation. You could try to bring the case to court, but the judge will probably dismiss your request because you missed the deadline.
There are, however, some exceptions to the statute of limitations rule. You could essentially pause the “clock” if either of these situations applies:
- You’re a minor, and therefore the clock would not start until you reach 18 years of age.
- The responsible party leaves the state for a period, and upon returning, the clock will begin again.
Common Defenses Used Against Dog Bite Liability Claims
A dog owner residing in North Carolina can use multiple defenses if they get sued for a dog bite injury. If any of these situations occurred, they might not have to face legal action from you:
- The dog bite victim trespassed on the dog owner’s property or tried to commit some type of crime;
- The injured individual assaulted, abused, or tormented the dog; or
- The dog was carrying out its duties as a hunting dog, police dog, or herding dog.
Before you pursue a claim or lawsuit, make sure none of the circumstances listed above apply to your dog bite case. You could end up with nothing if you somehow instigated the attack or were on the dog owner’s property without permission.
Bitten by a Dog? Contact DeMayo Law Offices
Reach out to the Charlotte personal injury lawyers from DeMayo Law Offices to find out more about how we can help you with your case. We’ll work hard to recover the compensation you need to pay for your treatment. We know how much you’re struggling. It’s been a financial, emotional, and physical burden ever since someone’s dog injured you. We want to be your advocate and seek the justice you deserve.
Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (704) 333-1000, or fill out our contact form.
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