blog home Dog Bite Dog Bite Laws: Strict Liability and Provocation in the Palmetto State

South Carolina is a strict liability state for dog bites. There is no “one bite rule.” A person who is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog can seek compensation from the animal’s owner without having to prove that the owner was negligent or that the dog was known to be dangerous. This law applies if the injured person was in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog’s owner or another person who was keeping or caring for the dog. There is one exception to the rule – if the dog was provoked to attack, the owner is not liable for resulting injuries.

What Is Considered Provocation?

For purposes of a dog bite claim, provocation could occur in different ways. For example:

  • If you were walking by and taunting the dog, it could be considered harassment.
  • If a child poked a stick through the fence repeatedly and the dog jumped the fence and attacked the child, that could be considered provocation.
  • If you were abusing or teasing a dog that attacked as a result, you may not have a claim for compensation.

What If You Were Trespassing When a Dog Bit You?

If you were trespassing on the dog owner’s or someone else’s property when the dog attacked, the owner may not be liable for your injuries. The law clearly states:

“If a person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping, the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked.”

A person who is trespassing is not lawfully on the property. Therefore the owner is not liable for damages.

What Compensation Is Available for Dog Bite Injuries?

In South Carolina, if you were bitten by a dog without provocation while you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place, you are entitled to seek compensation. Damages you may be entitled to claim will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. Common damages in dog bite claims include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Diminished quality of life

How Common Are Dog Attacks?

Between 83 million and 88 million dogs are living in the U.S., and 45% of homes have at least one dog, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). Nationwide, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. More than 800,000 victims of dog attacks receive medical attention for their injuries. Children account for at least half of the people who are bitten by dogs. In 2021, insurance companies paid out $881 million for dog bite claims. The average cost of a claim was $49,025.

How Can a Dog Bite Attorney Help?

Our experienced Charleston personal injury attorneys can help you maximize your compensation for dog bite injuries. We know how to gather evidence to support your claim, assess the full extent of your losses, negotiate skillfully on your behalf, and defend your rights and interests, in court if necessary. Attorney Julian Allen is a former insurance defense attorney with unique insight into how the other side works.

Dog bites can cause serious injuries, particularly when the victims are small children. After a serious dog attack, contact Allen Law at (843) 882-5005 to get a dedicated legal advocate in your corner.

Posted in: Dog Bite