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Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite attacks are common across the United States, including in North Carolina, and Monroe Union County is no exception to this trend. The injuries that result from a dog bite can be severe and often result in expensive medical costs to the victim. It is estimated that as many as 5 million people are attacked or bitten by a dog in the United States every year. Indeed, between 10 and 20 people -- the majority young children -- are tragically killed in dog bite attacks.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a Monroe Union County dog bite attack, contact the personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to learn about your rights and obligations under North Carolina law.

Why Dog Bite Cases are Different

Often times, a Monroe Union County dog bite case is different because it depends on whether or not the dog owner knew the animal was dangerous. Sometimes these cases turn on whether or not the dog was roaming, in violation of local leash laws. For this reason, it is vital that any victim of a dog bite injury documents as much of the situation as possible. This includes taking pictures of the injuries, taking photos of where the attack occurred, finding out who the owner of the dog is, and knowing whether or not the owner has insurance. If you have suffered a dog bite injury, know that you have a legal right to seek monetary compensation from any and all parties responsible.

Liability and Dog Bites

In certain cases, an owner of a dog who has bitten another person or animal may be held strictly liable for injuries suffered. This means that the victim need not prove that the owner was negligent. Strict liability applies to owners of dogs who have been classified as dangerous breeds.

Generally, dogs have a legal duty and responsibility to know their animal’s nature and protect the public from danger. This is especially true if the dog has a history or tendency to act aggressively or bite, even if an attack happened a long time ago or the dog was provoked before it bit another. North Carolina, along with many other states across the U.S., operate under a “one bite” rule. This means that once the animal has bitten someone else, the owner is burdened with automatic liability for harm the dog causes thereafter. That being said, even if it is only the first time the dog has bitten another, an owner may still be financially responsible for a dog bite victim’s injuries. A skilled personal injury attorney will be able to determine liability under state law based on the specific facts of your case.

Factors Considered When Determining Liability

There are several factors that are looked at when determining whether or not a dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury. Beyond having to be aware of the animal’s behavior and tendencies, a dog owner also owes a duty of care to treat the animal in a humane manner. The way in which the owner treats the dog can increase the likelihood that the animal will become aggressive to others. Factors that contribute to aggressive animal behavior include:

  • Keeping the dog chained for too long;
  • Keeping the dog outdoors for too long;
  • Not providing the dog adequate food;
  • Keeping the dog in bad weather (cold, heat, rain);
  • Not providing the dog enough water;
  • Not providing the dog appropriate shelter;
  • Caging the animal in a kennel that is too small;
  • Leaving the animal in a kennel that is not clean;
  • Caging the dog in a kennel that is not safe;
  • Neglecting the dog; and
  • Abusing the dog.

Notably, a dog owner’s behavior does not need to rise to the level of actual abuse or neglect in order for a court to find him or her liable for injuries suffered by a dog bite victim. The dog owner’s actions or failure to act can be found to be enough to have caused the animal to develop biting behaviors.

Contributory Negligence: Why It Matters

While a dog owner may be held liable for injuries suffered by a Monroe Union County dog bite victim, the actions of the victim also play a part in how much monetary compensation may be awarded in a court of law. This is because North Carolina and other states in the U.S. follow a theory of contributory negligence when determining how much a plaintiff should be awarded in a personal injury case. Sometimes a dog bite victim’s reckless or negligent behavior is what caused the dog to bite. If the victim is found to have contributed to the accident, his or her award will be reduced by the amount of fault that is found to be caused by the victim.

If you have been injured as result of a dog attack, contact our office to speak with one of the experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our attorneys work tirelessly to provide you with diligent representation and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.