Dog Bite – Animal Bite Attorney South Carolina
Animal bites, and particularly dog bites, injure a significant number of people every year in the North Charleston area. These incidents are capable of causing extremely serious injuries, including fractures, severe lacerations, permanent scarring, and nerve damage. In addition, bites are not the only way that an animal attack can result in serious injuries. For example, a dog attack could knock a person over and cause severe head trauma or a dislocated joint.
Fortunately for victims, South Carolina law makes it relatively easy for victims of dog bites to recover for their injuries. As a strict liability state, victims are entitled to compensation regardless of whether the owner of the animal had any reason to believe that the dog was capable of attacking someone, provided that the victim was in a public place or rightfully in a private place. Victims of attacks by domestic pets other than dogs may also be able to recover compensation.
Between 2005 and 2012 there were 251 American’s who died as a result of a dog bite. Rottweilers and Pit Bulls accounted for nearly 73% of all deadly encounters. South Carolina has been victim of 12 of these deadly attacks that involved Pit Bulls. It is these types of statistics that have prompted many communities to restrict what type of animal you may have living in your home or on your property.
According to South Carolina’s law the animal’s owner is responsible even if no sign of dangerous behavior has ever been seen before. The animal could bite, scratch, claw, kick, or peck you and that could result in a serious injury. Not all animal attacks and animal bites.
Dog Bites Can Cause Serious Injuries
Although you may think that only mail carriers need to concern themselves with dog bites, dog bites are far more common than you might think. Dog bites can cause very serious injuries, and children are the most susceptible to serious harm. While dogs are known as man’s best friends, a dog that you don’t know is not necessarily a friend of yours. Always use common sense – never engage with or pet a dog that you don’t know and teach your children to do the same. Dogs can be unpredictable, so steer clear and stay safe.
Dog bites, unfortunately, can be very serious, and there may be several common complications:
- Physical disfigurement at the wound site (often necessitating plastic surgery);
- Serious illnesses that manifest as a result of the bite;
- Significant lacerations and scarring that necessitate future care;
- Deep puncture wounds;
- Torn ligaments or muscles;
- Fractured bones;
- Loss of mobility in the affected area, which often requires physical therapy; and
- Serious infections.
In short, every dog bite should be taken seriously and every victim should seek medical attention.
You’ve Suffered a Dog Bite: Now What?
Safety first – dog bites can be far more serious than they might first appear; and if you’ve suffered a bite, you should seek immediate medical attention for appropriate treatment and testing. Often, a dog’s owner is present when a dog attacks and it’s common for a conversation to transpire between the dog-bite victim and the dog owner. There are some important considerations to pay attention to in any such conversation:
- Don’t discuss any kind of monetary settlement or compensation;
- Ask for the owner’s insurance information;
- Inquire about the dog’s health and vaccination history;
- Find out whether the dog has a history of aggressive behavior; and
- Do not allow the owner to take a picture or video of you.
Serious dog bites are surprisingly common and can lead to significant medical and financial complications. But if a dog bites you, the dog could also bite someone else – even a child. You can help to make sure that doesn’t happen by holding the dog owners accountable for not adequately and responsibly controlling their pet. Dog-bite cases are serious, and an experienced attorney with expertise in premises liabilities like dog bites can help you receive the compensation you deserve and can also help ensure that the offending dog doesn’t harm anyone else in the future.
Damages Available in a North Charleston Dog Bite Case
Dog bite victims can experience a wide variety of losses – both financial and intangible. An experienced dog bite attorney will know how to fully evaluate all of the effects of your dog bite and calculate the amount of damages you deserve from the dog owner. The following is some more detailed information regarding the potential damages in a South Carolina dog bite claim:
- Medical expenses – Many dog bite victims visit the emergency department or doctor’s office to have their bite wound examined and to take any possible precautions against infection or other bite-related complications. Even one trip to see a medical professional can result in compensable damages and the dog owner or their insurer should be held liable for those expenses. Some dog bite victims require much more extensive medical treatment than others, especially if the bite wound was particularly deep of damaged bones, muscles, or other soft tissue. In such cases, a victim may require surgical procedures, hospitalization, physical therapy, and other reparative procedures and treatment. The need for treatment can last for months or years and victims are entitled to recover for future estimated medical costs, as well.
- Psychological treatment – Dog bites can cause serious psychological trauma for many victims. Victims may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an extreme fear of dogs, and other debilitating disorders that can affect their ability to carry out regular activities or even leave the house in some situations. The costs of psychological treatment can also be recovered in a dog bite claim.
- Lost income – Some physical and psychological injuries caused by dog bites will prevent a victim from returning to work for some time after an injury. Losing any amount of income can substantially affect a household budget and cause other financial problems. Dog bite victims can seek compensation for both past and future lost earnings resulting from the attack.
- Permanent disability – Some dog bite victims never fully recover from their injuries and are never able to return to their previous jobs or to participate in the activities they once enjoyed. I a person loses the use of a limb or extremity, suffer permanent vision impairment, or any other type of lasting disability due to their dog bite, they can recover damages for their disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and related losses.
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement – Even if a person does not have restricted abilities, a dog bite may cause permanent scarring or disfigurement that cannot be fully repaired through surgeries. Such disfigurement can be traumatizing for a victim, especially if it is on the face or another visible part of the body. Compensation may be available for such disfigurement.
- Pain and suffering – Whether your dog bite injuries eventually heal or are lifelong, most injuries come with some level of physical pain. Severe dog bite injuries can cause particularly intense pain and suffering, with which an innocent victim will have to deal for an extended period of time. The law allows victims to seek compensation for the pain and suffering they experienced from their dog bite injuries.
Of course, not all of the above damages will apply to all dog bite victims and you should always have the specific circumstances of your situation analyzed by a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to get an accurate idea of what your case is worth.
Proving Damages from a Dog Bite
In addition to identifying the damages available in a particular dog bite cases, you must also provide proof to support your damage claims. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you to gather and present the evidence necessary to prove your damages. Such evidence can include the following:
- Medical records
- Pay statements and employment records
- Occupational expert testimony
- Medical professional testimony
- Psychology expert testimony
Without the help of a qualified law firm, many dog bite victims do not have the network and resources necessary to obtain expert analysis and opinions that can adequately support the amount of damages you truly deserve for your injuries.
In addition to providing proof of your losses, the logistics of seeking compensation can be quite complicated. The insurance claim process can be confusing with adjusters trying to limit liability at every turn. If you need to file a personal injury claim, navigating the legal system involves abiding by many rules and procedures to even get a court to hear your case. Because a substantial amount of financial recovery may be on the line, it is critical that you retain an experienced dog bite attorney who is familiar with insurance and legal claims in South Carolina.
Contact an Experienced South Carolina Dog Bite Attorney as Soon as Possible
At the The Hartman Law Firm, LLC we have seen just how significantly a dog attack can affect the lives of your or your child. There are so many different injuries and losses that you can suffer and your case should be built based on the details of your particular accident. In addition, our dog bite attorney has a thorough understanding of South Carolina dog bite law and knows how to apply the law to your case for the most favorable results possible. If you have been the victim of a dog bite or any other types of animal attack, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation today.