What Defenses Can a Dog’s Owner Assert in Your Dog Bite Lawsuit?

If you were bitten by a stranger’s dog, the last thing you want to hear are excuses. It shouldn’t matter how it happened. The dog’s owner should be held accountable. And, chances are, your Charlotte dog bite attorney can make sure this happens.

The only question will be whether the defendant has a legitimate defense.

Your Personal Injury Lawyer in Charlotte is Familiar with the Dog Bite Laws in North Carolina

Every state has its own laws when it comes to dog bites. North Carolina is no different. In North Carolina, the owner of a dangerous dog will be held strictly liable if the dog bites someone. This means your Charlotte dog bite attorney doesn’t have to prove the owner of a dangerous dog was negligent to win you compensation.

Laws About Containing Dogs

According to North Carolina G.S. §67-12, it is illegal for a pet owner to allow their dog to freely roam on its own at night. A dog must be accompanied by the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or another person the owner has allowed to watch the dog.

This law only applies at night and is only applicable to dogs over the age of six months. If your dog bite attorney can prove the owner violated this law, you can sue the owner for your injuries.

Under North Carolina law, a dangerous dog must be on a leash and muzzled if it’s not on the owner’s property. Even on the owner’s property, a dangerous dog must be kept contained.

Each Municipality Has Its Own Rules and Ordinances Regarding Dogs

Not only are there state laws about letting your dog run loose. Each town and municipality has the right to implement and enforce its own laws about dog bites.

Your personal injury lawyer in Charlotte will check to see if the defendant in your case has violated any of these laws. If so, the defendant may be determined to be per se negligent. This means that your Charlotte dog bite attorney won’t have to specifically prove negligence to win.

Your Charlotte Dog Bite Attorney Can Attempt to Prove Four Types of Liability

In North Carolina, as in many other states, there are four (4) ways your personal injury lawyer in Charlotte can prove liability. Each of these will be discussed in detail below. After that, we will turn to the various defenses the dog’s owner may raise.

Negligence Per Se

As briefly stated above, if a dog owner violates any of the statutes, such as the local leash law, it will constitute negligence per se. This means that the act itself is enough to prove negligence.

For example, you’re bitten by a two-year-old dog that was allowed to roam freely at night.

One-Bite Rule

In many cases, your Charlotte dog bite attorney can claim that the defendant violated the one-bite rule. This rule holds that a dog’s owner is liable if their pet had injured or attacked somebody in the past.

If your personal injury lawyer in Charlotte can prove that the defendant’s dog had bitten someone in the past, they will most likely be deemed at fault.


Of course, your Charlotte dog bite attorney can always rely on traditional negligence. Your city probably has a law about keeping dogs on a leash. This creates a duty in the defendant to ensure that their dog is never off their leash.

If they breach this duty and you’re injured, you should prevail in court. Knowing that this is the case, the defendant’s insurance carrier may be willing to settle rather quickly.

Call a Charlotte dog bite lawyer today!

Strict Liability

Very rarely, the court may impose strict liability on the defendant. In these cases, the mere fact that the defendant owns the dog that bit you is sufficient. These cases are rare. Most of the cases our Charlotte dog bite attorneys have handled relied on one of the other three approaches toward proving fault.

In North Carolina, the owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for any injuries the dog causes to people or other animals. North Carolina law defines a dangerous dog as one that previously killed or severely injured a person without being provoked or has been officially declared dangerous or potentially dangerous.

The Defendant’s Attorney Will Argue That You Were Partially or Totally at Fault

In any personal injury case, there’s a good chance the defendant will raise some sort of defense. They may claim that you were partially at fault. Or they may claim that they were suffering from an emergency medical condition at the time of their car crash.

The same thing is true for dog bite cases. The most common defenses that our personal injury lawyers in Charlotte have seen will be discussed below.

Trespass or Commission of an Active Crime

One of the most common defenses we see is criminal trespass. If you were trespassing on the defendant’s property at the time of your dog bite, the defendant may be off the hook.

One of the most important caveats of the dog bite laws in North Carolina is that you cannot be trespassing on private property. If you were, there is a chance you could walk away with nothing.

The same is true if you were committing a crime at the time of the attack.

You Were Tormenting or Teasing the Defendant’s Dog Prior to the Attack

Another popular defense in dog bite cases is that you were provoking, abusing, or harassing the dog prior to the attack. For example, you may see a dog playing in their owner’s backyard.

You continue to poke the dog with a stick or other instrument. If the dog escapes the yard and bites you, your Charlotte dog bite attorney will be hard-pressed to convince the judge to grant you damages.

Hire an Experienced Charlotte Dog Bite Lawyer Sooner Rather Than Later

If you were bitten by a dog, you may not be sure what to do. It’s not every day that something like this happens. The good news is that our Charlotte dog bite attorneys are well-versed in the dog bite laws in North Carolina. We also know what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.

We suggest you contact our office immediately after you’re treated for your dog bite injuries. The longer you wait to meet with a personal injury lawyer in Charlotte, the longer it’ll take to get the money you deserve.

Thankfully, our firm offers all new clients the opportunity to meet with one of our seasoned Charlotte dog bite attorneys free of charge. Also, if you decide to retain our firm, you won’t pay anything until we settle your case.