Legal Steps After a Dog Bite in Charlotte

While most canine companions are friendly and well-behaved, incidents of dog bites can range from minor nips to severe maulings, leaving victims physically and emotionally traumatized. If you have sustained a dog bite in Charlotte, North Carolina, understanding your legal rights and taking the necessary steps is crucial.

This blog examines the relevant North Carolina laws, outlines the immediate actions you should take and how a Charlotte dog bite lawyer can help you get compensation for your injury.

North Carolina Dog Bite Laws: Strict Liability for Owners

In the unfortunate wake of a dog bite, understanding the legal landscape is crucial for seeking recourse and navigating the recovery process. In North Carolina, victims benefit from robust “strict liability” laws protecting their rights.

Strict Liability vs. One-Bite Rule

Unlike states adhering to the “one-bite rule,” where past aggression might be necessary to establish owner liability, North Carolina prioritizes victim protection through strict liability. This means the dog owner is automatically responsible for any injuries inflicted by their canine, regardless of:

  • Knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite: Even if the owner was unaware of prior biting incidents, they are still held liable.
  • Provocation: Unless the victim intentionally provoked the dog (e.g., poking or attacking it), the owner remains accountable.
  • Negligence: The absence of owner negligence, like failing to leash the dog, doesn’t shield them from liability.

Owner’s Liability

North Carolina provisions on dog owner liability are detailed in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 67, as follows:

  • N.C. Gen. Stat. § 67-12: This law states that the owner of a dog over six months old is liable for any injury inflicted by the dog while:
    • Running at large on a public highway or public access area after sunset.
    • Trespassing on private property without the owner’s permission.
    • Worrying or chasing livestock.
  • N.C. Gen. Stat. § 67-4.4: This statute focuses on “dangerous dogs” and expands liability beyond the scenarios mentioned above. A dog is considered dangerous if it:
    • Has inflicted severe injury or killed someone without provocation.
    • Is designated “potentially dangerous” by animal control due to past biting incidents, attacks on animals, or aggressive behavior towards people.

Exceptions to Strict Liability

While strict liability offers victims strong legal protection, there are a few specific exceptions:

  • Trespassing: If the victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property at the time of the bite, the owner’s liability might be limited or even nullified.
  • Postal workers and law enforcement: Dog owners are not strictly liable for bites inflicted on authorized individuals carrying out their duties on the property, such as postal workers or law enforcement officers.
owners of aggressive dogs are liable to pay you compensation

Implications for Victims

Strict liability in North Carolina empowers dog bite victims by:

  • Shifting the burden of proof: Victims don’t need to prove the owner’s negligence or knowledge of a dangerous dog. They only need to demonstrate the occurrence of the bite and the identity of the owner.
  • Simplifying the legal process: This victim-centric approach streamlines the legal path to seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  • Holding owners accountable: This law discourages irresponsible dog ownership by promoting responsible pet care and ensuring owners take necessary precautions to prevent their dogs from harming others.

Immediate Actions After a Dog Bite in Charlotte

The moments following a dog bite in Charlotte are crucial. Your prompt actions can significantly impact your health and legal case. Here’s what you should do immediately:

  • Seek medical attention: This is the top priority. Wash the wound thoroughly and proceed to the nearest medical facility for evaluation and treatment. Keep any documentation related to your medical care, including doctor’s reports and receipts.
  • Report the incident: Contact Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control to report the bite. They will investigate the incident and ensure the dog is quarantined for rabies observation. Filing a report creates a paper trail and helps authorities track potentially dangerous animals.
  • Gather evidence: If possible, take photographs of the bite wound, the dog, and the scene of the incident. Collect witness contact information if there were any bystanders. Document the date, time, and circumstances of the bite in writing.
  • Contact a lawyer: Consulting with a Charlotte personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases is highly recommended. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights and options, and represent you if you choose to pursue compensation from the dog owner.

Seeking Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite victims in Charlotte can seek compensation for various damages through a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner. Recoverable damages can include:

  • Medical expenses: This covers all costs associated with medical treatment, including hospitalization, surgery, medication, and ongoing care.
  • Lost wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, you can be compensated for lost income and benefits.
  • Pain and suffering: This includes physical and emotional distress caused by the bite, including scarring, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Property damage: If your clothing or belongings were damaged during the attack, you can seek compensation for their replacement or repair.

Let a Charlotte Dog Bite Attorney Help You Win Your Case!

Dog bite incidents can be physically and emotionally challenging. Remember, you are not alone. By seeking medical attention, reporting the incident, and consulting with a qualified attorney, you can take control of the situation and pursue justice for the harm you have suffered.

If you have sustained a dog bite in Charlotte, North Carolina, consult with a qualified personal injury attorney at 1Charlotte to discuss your specific situation and legal options. Contact us at 704-706-2689 for further information and a free consultation.