It should come as no surprise that people who live in Asheville love their dogs. Most of the time, dogs behave themselves and are a source of constant enjoyment to their owners. However, dogs sometimes do the unexpected and bite someone. These bites can be extremely painful, and the medical bills can often be life-altering. Dog bites can leave extensive scarring, and can also result in permanent injuries.
Dog owners have a responsibility to control their dogs. If you’ve been bitten by someone else’s dog, you need a local western North Carolina dog bite lawyer to help you navigate the legal process so that you can get the financial compensation that you deserve.
If you or your loved one has been bitten by a dog, you should call an experienced dog bite attorney to see what recourse may be available to you. We offer free case evaluations, and there is no obligation to hire us if you decide that we’re not the best fit for your individual needs. Please give us a call today at (828) 452 – 3141.
Who is Liable for Dog Bites?
There are many different laws to navigate when it comes to determining fault for a dog bite injury. Generally, the analysis starts with the person who owns the dog. However, the simple fact that someone’s dog bit another person is not by itself enough to prove liability in North Carolina. There are other factors to consider, including:
- Previous dog bites: If this dog in particular has bitten someone in the past and that bite caused significant personal injury, the dog owner may be held “strictly liable” for this subsequent bite, meaning they cannot escape liability for any other extenuating circumstances of this subsequent bite.
- Violation of Leash Ordinances: Many cities have laws requiring dogs to be kept on leashes when they are outside of a fenced in yard. Failure to properly leash a dog which leads to someone’s personal injuries can be the basis for recovery against the dog owner.
- Negligence: If the dog has not bitten anyone in the past, the case will be approached from a “negligence” perspective. This means that your lawyer must show that the dog owner was careless or reckless in some fashion.
- Contributory Negligence: North Carolina has a law called contributory negligence, which basically states that if the injured person was at all at fault for their own injuries, they can’t recover money from the more negligent party. It is important not to make any statements to insurance companies or government officials without an attorney help you make sure your statements will not harm your civil lawsuit against the dog owner. You may inadvertently say something that makes it possible for a civil jury trial to find that you were partially at fault for your own injuries, thereby preventing any financial recovery.
If the dog owner is renting their house, it is also possible that the owner of the property may have some liability and financial responsibility for your injuries. The attorney would need to prove that the property owner had awareness that the renter kept a dangerous dog on the property, and that the landlord could have prevented the incident.
Proving a landlord is responsible for dog bite injuries is often difficult and requires extensive investigation. You or your loved one would be best served by hiring an experienced Asheville dog bite lawyer to help prove claims against either the dog owner or the landlord. The more people that you can prove have some responsibility, the more likely it is that an insurance company will be on the hook to compensate you for your injuries.
What to do if You are Bitten by a Dog
If you or a family member have been bitten by a dog, you should take some initial first steps to protect yourself legally, and preserve your potential claim against the dog owner or their insurance company:
- Take pictures of the dog, the scene of the attack, and your injuries. It’s important to document how the injuries look at the time of the bite, as a jury usually awards more in damages if there’s extensive photo documentation.
- Get the dog owner’s contact information. A name and phone number are a good start. If possible, also get a copy of their homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy.
- Get immediate medical attention. Any “delay in treatment” will result in a
jury believing your injuries were not as serious as they really were.
- Call the police and report the incident to the police and the local animal control agency. They will investigate a dog bite incident any time a serious dog bite injury is reported.
It’s of vital importance to begin immediately preserving evidence and investigating dog bite injury claims. We are highly experienced in dealing with dog bite injuries and can help you through this difficult process.
Types of Dog Bite Injuries
- Medical Expenses
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotion Damages, Including PTSD
- Nerve Damage
Our team works tirelessly to preserve evidence and collect medical information to prove the full extent of your injuries. While the goal of any claim where an insurance company is involved is to try to get a fair settlement, our approach is to push our cases towards trial. Insurance companies will only pay fair compensation if they are forced to do so. We work against insurance companies every day of the week and know how they operate.
How Long do I have to Bring a Dog Bite Injury Claim?
If you are injured by a dog, you have three years to bring a lawsuit under North Carolina law. If your loved one was killed as a result of a dog attack, you must bring a claim within two years of your loved one’s passing.
If you fail to bring your claim within this period of time you will be barred from ever recovering for your damages in court, so it is up the utmost importance to diligently pursue a recovery as soon as possible after the bite.
North Carolina Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws
North Carolina holds dog owners strictly liable if they allow their dogs to run around free at night:
No person shall allow his dog over six months old to run at large in the nighttime unaccompanied by the owner or by some member of the owner’s family, or some other person by the owner’s permission. Any person intentionally, knowingly, and willfully violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and shall also be liable in damages to any person injured or suffering loss to his property or chattels.
Dog owners will also be held strictly liable if their dog has previously been labeled a “dangerous dog.” A dog is a “dangerous dog” if they have previously “inflicted severe injury on a person” or if the local animal control board has determined the dog is a dangerous dog in what is called a “dangerous dog hearing.”
Dog owners may also be found to have been “negligent per se” if they violate animal control laws, such as leash laws, and the violation of the animal control law was the cause of your personal injury.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a dog bite attack in the Asheville or Western North Carolina area please give us a call for a free case evaluation. This call is “no strings attached” and there is no obligation to hire us if you decide to give our office a call. Call us today at (828) 452 – 3141.