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Orangeburg, SC Dog Bite Lawyer
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    Orangeburg, SC Dog Bite Lawyer

    Dog bites can be extremely painful and even cause severe injuries, both physically and emotionally. Fortunately, Orangeburg dog owners can be held responsible for any personal injuries caused by their dogs.

    When someone’s dog bites a person, the owner can be held liable for any damages that result from the attack, including economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and scarring or disfigurement. Our lawyers can help you assess the value of your case and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit against the dog owner. We can also help you negotiate with pushy insurance companies and represent you in court if the fight goes to trial.

    To get a free case review, contact our dog bite attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers by calling (803) 451-4000.

    Determining Liability for a Dog Bite in Orangeburg, SC

    In Orangeburg and throughout South Carolina, the law surrounding dog bites is governed by the principle of “strict liability.” According to S.C. Code Ann. § 47-3-110, dog owners are held responsible for any harm caused by their dogs biting someone, regardless of whether the owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. This means that the owner can be held liable for damages without the victim having to prove that the owner knew or should have known that their dog was dangerous.

    This doctrine differs from the “one-bite rule” that is followed in some other states. Under this rule, an owner might not be held liable for the first instance of their dog biting someone if they had no prior knowledge or reason to believe their dog was dangerous. However, in Orangeburg, the owner of a dog that bites another person is strictly liable for the incident, regardless of whether the dog has previously bitten someone or exhibited aggressive behavior.

    Establishing Strict Liability

    Certain conditions must be met to apply strict liability. Our dog bite attorneys have the experience to get the evidence you need to prove these elements. First, the incident must have taken place in a public area or when the victim was lawfully present in a private place, such as the dog’s owner’s property, with their explicit or implied consent.

    Additionally, the victim must not have provoked the dog before the attack. If it is found that the victim provoked the dog, the liability of the dog owner could be significantly impacted.

    Finally, the rule applies only when the dog has bitten the victim or attacked them in another way, such as by knocking them over and causing injury.

    Defenses to Strict Liability

    Under the strict liability rule, the victim in a dog bite case is generally favored. However, some exceptions and defenses can affect the outcome of such cases.

    One significant exception to the strict liability rule is trespassing. If the person who was bitten was unlawfully on the dog owner’s private property at the time of the bite, the strict liability statute might not apply. This means that the owner might not be held liable for the victim’s injuries if the victim was trespassing on their property.

    Another defense that can be used in dog bite cases is provocation. If the dog is provoked into attacking, the dog owner can use this defense. However, determining what constitutes provocation can be complex and often requires a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, if the victim was teasing or tormenting the dog, or if the dog was protecting its owner from harm, this might be considered provocation.

    Finally, the assumption of risk is another defense that can be used in some cases. If it can be shown that the victim voluntarily took a risk that led to the dog bite, such as ignoring clear warnings to stay away from the dog, this might reduce or eliminate the owner’s liability. For example, if the victim approached a dog that was known to be aggressive despite being warned to stay away, this might be considered an assumption of risk.

    Parties that Can Be Sued for a Dog Bite in Orangeburg, SC

    While dog owners are the primary parties liable under strict liability, various other individuals could also face lawsuits depending on their relationship with the dog or the victim at the time of the attack. The following are parties that are commonly held liable for dog bites in Orangeburg:

    Dog Owners

    The most straightforward cases involve the dog’s owner. As mentioned, as long as the victim was not trespassing or provoking the dog, the owner can be held liable for injuries caused by the pet. This liability holds even if the owner was unaware of any aggressive tendencies in their dog.

    Keepers and Handlers

    In certain scenarios, a dog might not be under the direct care and control of its owner during an incident. Such situations can happen when professional dog walkers or pet sitters are entrusted with looking after the dog or when a friend or relative temporarily takes custody of the dog.

    In such cases, if it can be demonstrated that the person responsible for the dog’s care had a legal obligation to take reasonable measures to restrain or control the dog, and their failure to do so resulted in an attack, they could potentially be held liable for any resulting damages or injuries.

    Landlords and Property Owners

    Landlords and property owners might also face liability if a tenant’s dog bites someone. This is more likely if the landlord knew, or should have known, about the presence of a dangerous dog and failed to take steps to ensure the safety of other tenants or visitors. However, establishing this form of liability requires proving that the landlord had sufficient control over the premises to prevent the danger and neglected this duty.

    Parental Liability

    If the dog’s owner is a minor, parents or legal guardians might be held liable for injuries caused by the dog. This is based on the principle of parental responsibility, which holds parents accountable for the actions of their minor children if those actions cause harm to others.

    Commercial Entities

    Businesses that keep dogs on their premises for security or other purposes could be held liable if one of these dogs bites someone. Like landlords, businesses must ensure their property is safe for customers and employees. If a business owner fails to properly train or restrain a dog, leading to an attack, the business could be sued for negligence.

    Our Orangeburg, SC Dog Bite Lawyers Can Help

    Call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000 for a free case analysis with our dog bite lawyers.