Although most dogs are friendly and loving companions, they can still cause tremendous harm if they feel threatened enough to attack another animal or person. Even bites from small dogs can lead to dangerous lacerations and infections, and the jaws of larger dogs are often strong enough to tear through muscle tissue, shatter bones, and leave behind permanent physical and emotional scars.
If you were recently attacked by someone else’s dog and suffered significant injuries as a result, there is a very good chance that a Columbia dog bite lawyer could help you hold the dog’s owner civilly liable for your damages. State law is very generous when it comes to protecting victims of dog bites and providing them grounds for civil litigation, and a skilled attorney could ensure you make the most of your available legal options.
When Are Dog Owners Civilly Liable for Bites?
Broadly speaking, there are two ways that various states approach civil claims based on dog bite injuries: by granting dog owners civil immunity if their dog has never bitten or attacked anyone before, or by holding dog owners strictly liable for all injuries their dog causes regardless of past behavior. South Carolina follows the latter approach, which means that victims of dog bites do not have to prove negligence by a dog’s owner or a history of violent conduct by the dog in question in order to recover compensation for their injuries.
However, there are a few exceptions to strict liability for dog bites that the relevant section of state law—South Carolina Code of Laws §47-3-110—establishes. First, a dog bite victim cannot file suit against the dog’s owner if they directly caused their own injuries by provoking or harassing the question in question.
Second, the owner of a dog working in a law enforcement capacity cannot be held strictly liable for injuries that dog causes because of their handler’s direct instructions, provided that various training requirements are fulfilled and regulatory restrictions are followed. A dog bite attorney in Columbia could help clarify whether these or other exceptional circumstances may apply in a particular case.
Recoverable Damages in Dog Bite Claims
Even though dog bite cases are generally based on strict liability rather than a finding of legal negligence, this distinction has no bearing on the damages that may be recoverable through a successful civil suit. With support from a dog attack lawyer in Columbia, an injured individual should be able to seek restitution for both economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Expenses for both past and future medical treatment, including psychological counseling
- Damage to personal property
- Missed work wages, if applicable
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological trauma
Punitive damages may rarely be awarded if a dog’s owner engaged in wanton negligence or intentionally directed their dog to assault someone who was lawfully allowed to be where they were. If available, though, punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of $500,000 or three times compensatory damages.
Speak with a Columbia Dog Bite Attorney Today
Being attacked by a dog can be traumatic for anyone, and especially for minors and elderly individuals who are particular vulnerable to severe injuries. Fortunately, you may be able to hold the owner of a vicious dog responsible for your injuries and subsequent losses through an out-of-court settlement or through civil litigation.
Either way, assistance from a Columbia dog bite lawyer could be crucial to getting the positive result you want out of your situation. Call today to learn more about the help a seasoned attorney could provide.