Columbia Dog Bite Lawyers
The Center For Disease Control reports that there are nearly 5 million dog bites in the U.S. Even dog bites that don’t cause deep wounds should at least be checked out by a medical professional. And some injuries—including attacks that may not be “bites” per se, but are definitely damaging to the victim—can require substantial medical care at significant financial cost and notable long-term consequences. A Columbia, SC dog bites lawyer from our office can advise how to proceed with a lawsuit and what will be needed to get a fair settlement.
Strict Liability in South Carolina Dog Bite Law
Injured plaintiffs have a significant advantage in dog bite cases that doesn’t exist in other areas of personal injury law. Most areas of PI—a car accident, for example--require the plaintiff to prove the defendant was negligent. In a dog bite case though, the concept of negligence is replaced with that of strict liability.
Strict liability essentially means the very existence of a dog bite means the owner is at fault and therefore liable to the plaintiff for damages. That’s the general rule. But like most rules, this one has exceptions.
The Trespasser Exception
Strict liability presumes that the injured plaintiff was either in a public space or a private space that they had a right to be on. Trespassers are different.
An important distinction has to be made about who is or is not a trespasser. The postman is not a trespasser. Even a door-to-door salesman or activist is not a trespasser, as their role presumes the need to come up and knock on your door. A “No Trespassing” or “Beware of Dog” sign can provide legal protection if the salesman/activist is bitten by the dog, but the postal carrier always has the right to perform their daily duties.
South Carolina law also makes a distinction for the discovered trespasser. This is someone who repeatedly trespasses, the owner knows about it, and still allows it. An example might be the grade schooler who cuts through a backyard on the way to school. If it can be established the property owner knew this was happening, permitted it, and neglected to inform the child of the dangers presented by the dog, strict liability can still apply.
Strict liability also presumes the injured plaintiff was not provoking the dog in any way. Provoking can be interpreted broadly. A seemingly benign action like petting a dog in an outdoor coffee shop could be considered provoking. It’s a dog that does not belong to the injured plaintiff and they weren’t invited to pet. This can be an action that removes strict liability protections for plaintiffs.
All in all, though, strict liability will often apply. Furthermore, depending on the circumstances, a dog owner can be criminally charged. That’s a decision up to the District Attorney, but the filing of charges can certainly strengthen the civil lawsuit case of a Columbia, SC dog bites attorney.
What To Do After a Dog Bite
There are two key elements that will have to be proven, even assuming strict liability. The injured plaintiff will have to demonstrate that the dog owned by the defendant in the lawsuit is indeed the one that bit them. Plaintiffs also have to demonstrate that it was this particular dog bite that caused their damages and what the scope of those damages are.
Getting medical attention should always be the first step in any accident situation and dog bites are no different. If the injured plaintiff has the presence of mind, getting some cellphone photos of the dog, the bite, the scene of the event, and exchanging information with the dog owner can be helpful in the event there is dispute over ownership of the dog. Even without this though, expert witness testimony can still match the bite marks to the teeth of a particular dog.
Seeing a doctor right away allows there to be a concrete paper trail of the injuries that can be traced precisely to the dog bite. This means more than simply proving that the dog bite happened—it means demonstrating how much damage was caused. All of these damages can be recouped in a settlement, from the direct medical expenses incurred, to the more intangible costs of pain, suffering and trauma.
Relentless Lawyers for Serious Cases
The Columbia, SC dog bite lawyers at Mann Blake & Jackson believe we all have the right to be safe when we walk in our neighborhoods or go any other places that dogs are allowed. We believe owners are responsible for their pet safety and that’s it right to hold them—or, more accurately, their insurance company—accountable when the dog acts out.
We've Fought and Beaten Government Agencies
We've recovered over $100M in verdicts, settlements, and awards for our clients, much of that against government agencies. We know what you're facing, and we're the team to help you win.
These Cases Are Close to Home For Us
Not only are we North and South Carolina attorneys, but our families, friends, and neighbors have fallen victim to the injustices at Camp Lejeune. We'll fight vigorously for you and your family not just because it's the right thing to do, but because we've been hurt by this too.
We Know How to Protect and Service Our ClientsWe've fought for whistleblowers. We've fought for catastrophic injury victims. We know this can feel like a daunting road, but we have the experience and know what it takes to provide you the justice you deserve.
First-class in their representation of our family.
“Thorough and professional with a personal touch that made us comfortable throughout the entire process.”
The compassion for their clients is excellent.
“They worked tirelessly to help me in my case. They always quickly responded to emails. Both of them exhibit expert knowledge in law.”
I highly recommend Jenkins and his firm.
“He took the time to walk me through the legal process and explain all of my rights as if I was his only client.”
So fortunate to have found them!
“He contacted us every day with complete explanation in detail of everything. He kept us informed daily.”
Service was impeccable.
“He explained everything in great detail and laid out the best path forward. His service was impeccable.”