Sumter Dog Bite Lawyer
Animal attacks involve a special area of premises liability law. Overall, pet owners have a duty of care to prevent their animals from hurting other people. However, since most people own pets, South Carolina laws try to balance the interests of victims who need and deserve injury compensation and pet owners who, in many cases, view such actions as criminal penalties. So, the dog bite laws in the Palmetto State are especially complex.
The experienced Sumter dog bite lawyer at The Stanley Law Group routinely handle these matters throughout South Carolina. Therefore, we’re able to simplify these complex laws. So, during your initial consultation, we don’t give you a lot of Legalese. Instead, we explain your legal options in language you understand. Furthermore, once we embark on a course of action, we don’t let up until we obtain the best possible result under the circumstances.
As mentioned, animal attack victims often sustain serious injuries. These injuries are both physical and emotional.
Physically, the injuries usually include knockdown-related broken bones and head injuries. Then, when dogs bite, their teeth inflict deep puncture wounds along with severe tearing lacerations. These injuries are always gruesome and painful. They’re normally permanent as well.
Speaking of permanent injuries, dog bite victims often suffer from permanent or long-lasting emotional injuries, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For example, many victims develop an unnatural fear of all dogs. Such symptoms make it difficult or impossible to function day to day.
To obtain compensation for these injuries in South Carolina, a Sumter dog bite lawyer has several legal options. All have some pros and cons.
- Strict Liability: According to Section 47-3-110, “the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked.” This law is so broad that many pet owner jurors view it negatively and they have a negative view of strict liability claimants.
- Scienter (Knowledge): Even pet owners are usually willing to award maximum compensation in scienter claims. Compensation is available if the owner knew the dog was possibly dangerous. Evidence of knowledge could include previous attacks as well as pre-bite behavior, like vicious growling. The scienter rule is obviously applicable only in some cases.
- Negligence: Ordinary negligence is a lack of ordinary care. For example, teachers who allow children to play near strange dogs are usually negligent. Negligence per se is a violation of a safety law. Sumter and many other area municipalities have very strict animal restraint laws, like fence and leash laws.
Compensation in an animal attack case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Comparative fault and assumption of the risk are two of the most common insurance company defenses in dog bite claims.
In this context, comparative fault usually involves animal provocation. Under South Carolina law, provocation is more than aggressive teasing. Instead, provoking an animal is a physical act that’s practically synonymous with torturing an animal. Since South Carolina is a modified comparative fault state, even if the victim was partially responsible for the attack, the owner could still be liable for damages.
Assumption of the risk usually involves a “Beware of Dog” or other such warning sign. A sign is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. The insurance company must still prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what it meant. In most cases, at least one element of the assumption of the risk defense is difficult to prove.
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Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Sumpter dog bite lawyer, contact The Stanley Law Group, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.