Average Dog Bite Settlement in South Carolina

south carolina dog bite settlements

Being chased and bitten by a dog is a terrible experience that no one should have to go through. Yet according to the CDC, 4.7 million Americans receive a dog bite every year. Besides the physical injury itself, which sometimes requires hospitalization, victims have to contend with the mental trauma of the experience and the effects on their careers. 

If you or a family member is the victim of a dog bite, then you have the right to be made whole. But how much are you entitled to? What kinds of damages can you recover? And how much is a typical dog bite settlement? Read on to learn more about the answers to these questions.

After that, contact a qualified dog bite injury attorney in South Carolina today to get help on your case.

What Is the Average Dog Bite Settlement in South Carolina?

Because legal settlements are usually confidential, it’s impossible to know the average dog bite settlement amount with any certainty. However, other statistics help give us an idea. According to State Farm’s Insurance Information Institute (III), there were over 300 dog-bite-related insurance claims in South Carolina in 2019. The average cost per each one of these claims was between $31,799 and $55,800. This might give you a starting point for understanding the potential value of a dog bite claim. But the circumstances of each case are so different that this average tells you very little about the value of your claim. 

Understanding South Carolina Dog Bite Compensation Types

South Carolina has long recognized a few categories of damages for all kinds of personal injury cases, including dog bites. These damages can either focus on helping the victim or deterring the dog owner. 

#1 - Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages (also called actual damages) aim to make the injured party whole. Specifically, the goal of compensatory damages is to put the injured party in the position they were in before the dog bite occurred. South Carolina allows dog bite victims to recover two kinds of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages 

Economic damages compensate the dog bite victim for their objective monetary losses. In dog bite cases, the most common economic damages are medical bills and lost income. A plaintiff can receive economic damages not just for their ER visit or emergency care. They can also recover the cost of all prescription medications, physical therapy appointments, and counseling sessions. Lost income damages allow you to recover the amount of money you would have received from your job if you had not been forced to miss work because of your injury.

Non-Economic Damages 

Receiving damages for your measurable monetary losses is a good start, but what about those losses you suffered that you cannot put a price tag on? For these kinds of issues, courts award non-economic damages. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are subjective and impossible to measure with accuracy. Courts award non-economic damages for things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and a person’s lost quality of life. Having an attorney is especially helpful when trying to prove non-economic damages.

#2 - Punitive Damages

Where compensatory damages focus on making the plaintiff whole for their losses, punitive damages try to hold the defendant accountable for their bad behavior.  Punitive damages do this both by punishing the defendant and discouraging them (and others) from doing similar acts in the future. 

Punitive damages are not an option in cases where the defendant was simply careless or negligent.  Instead, South Carolina requires you to prove that the defendant’s conduct was willful, wanton, or reckless. In other words, they had to either intentionally do something that resulted in your dog bite or act without caring about the consequences to you or others. Because this kind of intent is hard to prove, you should speak with an attorney about whether you can prove punitive damages in your case. 

Factors Affecting the Value of South Carolina Dog Bite Settlements

The difficulty with asking about the “average” South Carolina dog bite settlement is that there is no such thing as an “average” case. Every dog bite case has several components that can affect the ultimate compensation amount. 

Medical Treatment Costs

Medical treatment costs are the biggest damage in many dog bite cases. A dog bite from a chihuahua may require little or no medical care. A bite (or bites) from larger dogs may leave you with debilitating injuries and permanent disabilities. Then there’s the psychological effects of the attack. The more serious your injuries, the higher your medical bills. In turn, higher medical costs will drive up the value of your settlement. 

Lost Wages

Serious dog bites may force you to take sick leave for several days or weeks. In more serious cases, calling in sick for an extended time due to a dog bite can result in you losing out on promotions or bonuses. When that happens, you can claim both past lost wages and the value of the lost promotion or bonus.

Property Damage

Although property damage is not very common in dog bite cases, it can be a significant issue. Some biting incidents result in damage to a victim’s phone, glasses, or clothes. Wild dogs can also damage or destroy jewelry, furniture, and cars. 

What Can I Do to Maximize My Dog Bite Settlement Amount?

Notwithstanding the above factors, having an attorney represent you is the single most important action you can take to get the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys know what you need to prove to win your case. They also know how to collect favorable evidence on your behalf. Finally, they are talented negotiators who can effectively and aggressively defend your interests.

If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury, John Peace and the Peace Law Firm can help you rebuild your life. We will strive to hold the dog’s owner responsible for your injuries. We also know that your case is not average. We’ll dive into the unique details of your case so that you have the best chance of receiving the best settlement amount possible. Schedule a free initial consultation with us today.

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