Many people like dogs, and they can have many positive effects on our lives. But the truth is that any dog could bite someone at any time, and it can have devastating consequences.
The CDC estimates that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year, meaning about 1 out of 70 people are bitten annually. It’s also estimated that close to half of all dog bite victims are young children. In some cases, permanent, irreparable damage can result, or extensive reconstruction surgery may be needed.
Every dog bite case is different. It may occur at the park, on a walk, or at a friend’s house. The dog may be small, but it can still cause a serious injury. A dog bite often entails a painful recovery and can cause a severe infection, scarring and disfigurement, and lasting emotional trauma.
If you or your child were bitten by a dog in Surfside Beach, it’s important to understand your legal rights in South Carolina. An experienced dog bite attorney can help you seek the compensation you need to cover your present and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
The compassionate attorneys at Jebaily Law Firm have extensive experience in these types of cases. We’re ready to use all the resources at our disposal to negotiate with insurance companies – or go to court, if necessary – to fight for the financial reward you need to heal from your injury and move forward. We’ll be by your side every step of the way.
Dog Bite Laws in Surfside Beach, SC
The dog bites laws in South Carolina are quite straightforward. If a person is lawfully in a public or private place and is bitten by a dog, the owner of the dog is liable for any damages caused by the dog. However, if the dog bite victim is illegally trespassing, or harasses or otherwise provokes the dog, the dog owner is not liable.
In South Carolina, there are no “free first bite” or “one bite” laws. The dog owner is responsible for any injury the dog may inflict on someone else. In most cases, this means that the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance policy will cover your expenses and losses related to the dog bite injury.
After a dog bite, the victim can pursue damages for:
- Medical costs for treatment
- Future medical expenses
- Lost income during recovery
- Any property damage, such as damaged clothing, eyeglasses, phones, and so forth
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Individuals who willingly agree to handle other people’s animals – such as groomers, veterinarians, dog trainers, and kennel owners – generally cannot seek compensation for dog bite damages.
Common Dog Bite and Attack Injuries
The most common dog bite victims are boys between the ages of 5 and 9. However, anyone of any sex and age can become a victim. Very young children (under age 4) and people over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer severe injuries during a dog attack due to their fragility and inability to defend themselves or get away.
Some dog bites are defensive in nature. The dog has been put into a stressful, fearful, or overtly painful situation. The dog may exhibit dog body language indicating it is stressed, which is commonly not noticed by the victim or the dog owner. And then the dog bites. Many of these defensive bites are directed at the victim’s face.
Another common type of dog bite is caused by resource guarding. Dogs naturally guard food, bones, toys, and beds. If someone gets too close or tries to take the item, or force the sleeping dog off the couch, the dog may react aggressively. These dogs may growl and threaten before biting. Many aggressive resource guarding bites are directed at the arms and hands.
Another type of dog bite is caused by the dog defending its home territory. These bites are aggressively directed toward postal workers, delivery personnel, and workers who enter the dog’s house or yard.
Some dog bites don’t puncture the skin and just cause bruising. However, dog bites can cause:
- Deep puncture wounds that can easily get infected
- Severe skin lacerations
- Severed tendons and ligaments
- Bone fractures and joint dislocations
It’s important to know that even a seemingly minor dog bite can result in a serious infection, so it’s important to seek medical care following a dog bite incident.
Where Dog Bites Happen
Although many people tend to think of dog bites as happening between a dog and a stranger in a public place, most dog bites occur in the dog’s home, and are inflicted on people the dog has regular contact with. Typical dog bite victims are:
- Children who live in the home
- Friends of children who live in the home
- Relatives and friends of the dog owner
- Neighbors of the dog owner
- Workers who enter the home
When dog bites happen in public places, the most common scenarios are:
- People trying to catch a loose dog
- People trying to pet a dog they don’t know
Premises Liability and Dog Bites
Premises liability is insurance a business owner can buy to cover themselves in the case of accidents happening in their business. For example, premises liability will pay for damages if a customer slips and falls while on a business’s property. Similarly, premises liability insurance could cover the business owner if a dog bite occurs on the business’s property.
Some small business owners run their businesses out of their homes. If they own a dog, the dog could be present during business hours. The dog may get loose and decide to protect the property against clients, whom the dog perceives as intruders. In these cases, premise liability insurance could pay for the damages inflicted on the dog bite victim.
Homeowners’ Insurance Coverage for Dog Bites
Most homeowners’ insurance policies provide liability coverage for damages inflicted by dogs on the insured’s property. In fact, some insurance companies say that around one-third of the claims are due to damages inflicted by dog bites.
If you are hesitating to sue a relative, neighbor, or friend over a dog bite, keep in mind that it is the insurance company that will likely pay for your damages, not the dog’s owner.
Contact a Dog Bite in Surfside Beach Lawyer Today
It is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced dog bite lawyer when pursuing a dog bite liability claim.
Treatment of a dog bite injury can be extremely expensive, and in some cases, the damage can be permanent if nerves and tendons are severed, an eye is lost, or fingers have to be amputated. If a child is bitten in the face, multiple reconstructive surgeries may be necessary. Even a simple puncture wound can cause a deep-tissue infection that may require surgical treatment.