Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer

Dogs are the most popular pet in the United States. You may encounter dogs almost anywhere. Unfortunately, when owners fail to properly control their pets, injuries can happen.

Dogs bite about 4.5 million people in the U.S. every year. Dog bites can cause serious injuries and emotional trauma. If you or a loved one has injuries from a dog attack, contact a Columbia dog bite lawyer at the Shealey Law Firm to discuss your options.

Reasons You Need a Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer

About 20% of dog bite victims require medical care. Young children and older adults are particularly vulnerable because they may have difficulty escaping or fighting off an attacking dog and their bodies may be more frail.

Any dog bite can cause injuries, such as:

  • Scrapes and bruises
  • Facial injuries
  • Cuts, lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Torn skin or muscles
  • Broken bones

Bites from large dogs can be particularly damaging and cause serious injuries, such as nerve damage, organ damage, dislocations, crushing injuries, head injuries, eye injuries and death.

Complications From Dog Bite Wounds

In addition to the initial physical trauma from a dog attack, victims may experience complications. Dogs have bacteria in their mouths that can enter the body of bite victims through the wounds caused by a dog attack.

About half of infected dog bite wounds contain Pasteurella bacteria, which causes painful infections at the site of the wound and can lead to serious illness in people with compromised immune systems. Tetanus, rabies and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections are also a concern with dog bites. Some of these infections can become life-threatening.

Emotional Effects of Dog Bites

Dog-bite victims may also suffer serious emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, that can last for years and require extensive counseling. Emotional trauma from a dog bite can interfere with daily activities and result in loss of enjoyment of life because many victims fear going anywhere that they might encounter a dog.

Dog attacks can cause severe financial and emotional distress. A Columbia dog bite lawyer can help you file an insurance claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Dog Bite Laws in South Carolina

South Carolina has a strict liability statute for injuries and damage caused by pets and working dogs. Dog owners are liable for damages caused by a dog bite even if the dog never bit anyone before.

Owners who know or should have known that their dog previously bit someone or has shown a tendency to bite must register their animals as vicious dogs and confine them indoors or in a locked pen at all times. Owners must also keep their dog’s rabies vaccinations up to date and be able to provide proof of vaccination.

Owners are liable for dog attacks that occur on public property and private property where the victim had a legal right to be. However, they are usually not liable when an attack happens while someone is trespassing on private property.

Owners may not be liable for a dog attack if the victim provoked or harassed the dog. However, this rule may not apply if the victim is a child or an adult who is not mentally competent.

Dogs working in law enforcement are exempt from strict liability laws when they bite while performing their job function, as long as the handler is adhering to rules and regulations and the bite did not constitute excessive force or impact an innocent third party. Working dogs, such as guard dogs, are not exempt. Our Columbia dog bite lawyers can explain how local dog bite and leash laws in South Carolina may impact your case.

Compensation Available for an Animal Attack

Victims of dog bite attacks can recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Prescription medications
  • Rehabilitation
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Lost wages and earning capacity

Additionally, people injured by dog bites can recover compensation for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent disability, disfigurement and property damage.

Homeowners or renters insurance pays the majority of dog bite claims. In 2022, homeowners insurance paid over $1.1 billion on dog bite liability claims with the average payout being more than $64,000.

Steps To Take After a Dog Bite

The first thing you should do after a dog bite is to seek medical attention. Even if your injuries do not seem serious, infections or other complications could develop.

Notify the dog owner and the DHEC Environmental Affairs Office. DHEC will explain safety protocols related to the South Carolina Rabies Control Act. Ask the dog owner to provide proof that their dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination and seek advice from a medical provider about any rabies precautions you need to take.

Keep copies of your medical bills and record details about your injuries and recovery in a journal. Take photographs of your injuries. Make note of what you were doing and where you were when the dog attacked.

FAQs About Dog Bites

How common are rabies infections from dog bites?

Thanks to widespread vaccination campaigns, rabies in dogs is no longer common. There were only three reported cases of rabies caused by dogs in South Carolina in 2021. However, due to the potentially fatal nature of rabies infections, it is critical to address the risk of rabies after a dog bite.

Can small dogs cause bite injuries?

Because of their greater size and strength, large dogs are more likely to cause serious injuries. However, even bites from small dogs can lead to severe infections or damage to vulnerable body parts, such as the eyes. Additionally, a person who falls while trying to get away from a biting dog could suffer broken bones or head injuries.

Contact a Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer

Even though you do not have to prove the dog owner was negligent, the dog owner may claim that you provoked the dog into attacking, did not have a legal right to be on the property or the attack did not cause your injuries. A Columbia animal attack attorney can help you gather and present evidence to prove your case.

An experienced attorney can ensure that your insurance claim or lawsuit includes compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses. Call the Shealey Law Firm at 803-590-3917 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an experienced Columbia dog bite lawyer.


Get a Case Review

Ask us to evaluate your case by submitting a few details about your situation below.

"*" indicates required fields

By submitting this form, you agree to receive calls or text messages about your case from Shealey Law Firm. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.