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Posted on behalf of Harbin & Burnett on Mar 20, 2018 in Dog Bites

Does your dog bite?

It seems like every week or two there is a dog attack on the news. Often involving pit bulls and children, these stories usually end with the person receiving serious injuries or even death. But there are thousand of other dog bite cases that don't make the news.  What is the law in South Carolina concerning dog bite cases?

In many states, there is what is known as the "one-bite" rule. That means if a dog has never bitten a person before, the owner is not liable.  Once the owner has notice of the dogs agressiveness, then there would be liability for future incidents.  South Carolina does not follow this rule, but instead imposes strict liability. This means that the owenr is responsible  even without any prior knowledge of the dog's aggressiveness. There are a few exceptions: for example of the person bitten was provoking the dog or was trespassing on private property. Police dogs also have some immunity.

If you are bitten, you are allowed to make a claim against the owner.  The value of the claim depends on several factors, including amount of medical bills, permanency of injuries, and other factors.  The owner may be personally responsible or the attack may be covered by a homeowners policy.

It is important to retain a lawyer as quickly as possible after a dog bite incident as evidence can disappear.  We regularly handle dog bite claims.  Give us a call to discuss your call.

Here is the South Carolina Law:

SECTION 47-3-110. Liability for attacks by dogs, provoked attacks, trained law enforcement dogs.

(A) If a person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person's care or keeping, the dog owner or person having the dog in the person's care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. For the purposes of this section, a person bitten or otherwise attacked is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person's care or keeping, when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property in the performance of a duty imposed upon the person by the laws of this State, the ordinances of a political subdivision of this State, the laws of the United States of America including, but not limited to, postal regulations, or when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the property owner or a lawful tenant or resident of the property.

(B) This section does not apply if, at the time the person is bitten or otherwise attacked:

(1) the person who was attacked provoked or harassed the dog and that provocation was the proximate cause of the attack; or

(2) the dog was working in a law enforcement capacity with a governmental agency and in the performance of the dog's official duties provided that:

(a) the dog's attack is in direct and complete compliance with the lawful command of a duly certified canine officer;

(b) the dog is trained and certified according to the standards adopted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council;

(c) the governmental agency has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of dogs in the dog's official law enforcement duties;

(d) the actions of the dog's handler or dog do not violate the agency's written policy;

(e) the actions of the dog's handler or dog do not constitute excessive force; and (f) the attack or bite does not occur on a third party bystander.

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