Dogs are fiercely loyal companions, but not all respond with adoration.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that dogs attack 4.5 million Americans every year, frequently inflicting serious injury.
When dogs attack, the effects can devastate. People who’ve been injured by a dog bite are often left wondering how to proceed. That’s why the law looks to the pet’s owners for liability instead.
North Carolina imposes a general duty of care on pet owners. The state requires owners to maintain reasonable control over their pets to prevent harm to bystanders, children, and other animals.
But the law is complicated. The owner’s liability depends on a number of factors that might seem unfair or unclear.
In fact, there are several different grounds on which victims can pursue compensation for their injuries. This page will help you understand how a Charlotte dog bite attorney can help hold irresponsible owners accountable.
Dog Owner Negligence: Understanding North Carolina’s One-Bite Rule
You may have heard that dogs in North Carolina can bite someone once before their owners are liable for injuries. There’s some truth to that, but it’s not a strict rule.
North Carolina is one of only a few states that still apply the old One-Bite Rule for dog attacks. Owners are liable if they know or should know the dog is dangerous or has violent tendencies.
The One-Bite Rule will not protect owners if their dog meets any of the following criteria:
- The dog was responsible for a biting incident in the past.
- It’s large and roaming free at night at the time of the attack.
- The dog demonstrated violent, dangerous, or aggressive behavior in front of the owner, regardless of whether the dog has bitten anyone. Evidence of an aggressive personality includes following people while barking and growling, injuring or killing other animals, lashing out without provocation.
- The dog’s breed is known to be dangerous (e.g. rottweiler, pit bull, etc.).
- It qualifies as a “dangerous dog” under North Carolina personal injury law (see ‘Strict Liability’ below).
- There is any other evidence that the owner should have known that the dog might bite or attack.
Once we have established that the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s violent behavior, our Charlotte dog bite attorneys can hold the pet owners accountable for their negligence.
Strict Liability for Pet Owners in North Carolina
Some dogs are considered so inherently dangerous that North Carolina subjects their owners to strict liability. This means that the owners are automatically liable for the damages their dog causes, even if the owners weren’t negligent at all. The One-Bite Rule is generally irrelevant in strict liability cases.
Strict liability applies to owners of “dangerous dogs,” as defined by state or local law. This includes:
- Dogs that inflicted severe injury or death on another person without provocation
- Any dog that has been kept for purposes of dog fighting in the past
- Dogs local authorities classified as “potentially dangerous” because of threatening or violent behavior
Note that a dog with any history of biting or violence may subject its owner to strict liability. If you aren’t sure whether to proceed on grounds of negligence or strict liability, the Charlotte dog bite attorneys at DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P.® can help.
North Carolina’s Local Leash Laws: Additional Liability for Dog Owners
Believe it or not, the outcome of a dog bite case in North Carolina might just depend on a handbook in your local county office. Nearly every city and county in the state has its own set of local ordinances, and many of these establish specific rules about when, where, and how dogs are allowed to interact with the public.
Sometimes, owners that wouldn’t otherwise be vulnerable to claims for negligence or strict liability are held liable because they violated a local leash law or ordinance. These simple rules, which may require thorough research to fully understand, could have a big impact on the outcome of your case.
As Charlotte dog bite attorneys, we actually represent animal attack victims all across the state. We know that a dog bite in Hickory, for example, might have a different outcome than one in Monroe. You can count on our talented team to exhaustively explore every applicable provision in state and local law in order to recover maximal compensation in your case.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Charlotte Dog Bite Attorneys
If you’ve suffered an injury from somebody else’s dog in North Carolina, it is almost always a good idea to call a lawyer — especially if your injuries are severe. Even in spite of the One-Bite Rule, compensation is often available to those who’ve been hurt to no fault of their own.
At the DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P.®, our experienced Charlotte dog bite attorneys can help you pursue compensation for the full extent of your injuries, not only from the pet owners but also potentially from your own insurance companies too.
No one deserves to face the cost and suffering of a dog bite attack alone. We can help. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about your rights and the value of your claim.