South Carolina Dog Bite Laws to Know After You Get Injured

While dogs are “man’s best friend,” this is not always the case. All dogs are not-so-distant relatives of one of the natural world’s fiercest predators: wolves. As a result, they sometimes attack and bite people.

Dog attacks can cause serious physical harm and can even kill someone. In addition, dog bites or attacks can leave the victim with long-lasting emotional trauma.

If you suffer a dog bite in South Carolina, you are, in most cases, entitled to compensation. There are a couple of main laws to keep in mind after a dog bites and injures you in South Carolina.

The Dog Bite Law

Generally, under the South Carolina dog bite law, a dog’s owner is liable for any damages a dog causes in an attack. In addition to the owner, a person caring for or otherwise keeping a dog is liable for any damage that the dog causes in an attack. The victim of a dog bite can hold either individual liable for damages. 

The dog bite liability rule applies in public places but can also extend to private property. The rules protect individuals from dog attacks when they are on their own private property.

The rules also protect individuals who are on someone else’s private property when the attack occurs, as long as they are on that person’s property with permission. 

The dog bite law does not protect an individual who is trespassing on someone else’s private property. Thus, if a dog hurts someone while that person is trespassing on private property, the dog owner or keeper is not liable for the damages the attack causes.

Exceptions to Dog Bite Liability

Along with the exception for trespassing, there are other exceptions to a dog owner’s liability for damages their dog causes to another person under SC dog bite laws.

First, an owner is protected from liability if their dog attacks someone who provokes or otherwise threatens the dog and instigates the attack.

Furthermore, the general dog bite liability rule does not apply when a dog bites someone acting in their official government capacity while on the owner or keeper’s property. For example, this exemption applies to postal workers, census workers, and law enforcement officers.

Finally, there is an exemption for police dogs who bite people. However, for this exemption to be applicable, the police law enforcement officer and dog must meet a few requirements:

  • The dog must be acting in their official duties;
  • The dog must be acting in compliance with the lawful command of a certified canine officer;
  • The dog must have a certificate of training in compliance with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council’s requirements;
  • The agency responsible for the dog must have a written policy on the use of dogs in law enforcement;
  • The actions of the dog or the responsible officer must not violate their agency’s written policy; 
  • The dog’s actions must not amount to excessive force; and
  • The dog must not make the attack on or bite a third party bystander.

Most law enforcement agencies should meet the bulk of these requirements, but it is still important for you and your attorney to check that the agency, officer, and dog meets all these policies if a police dog bites you.

However, if you are a third-party bystander and a police dog bites you, whether the first five requirements are met or not becomes irrelevant. The same is true if a dog bite amounts to excessive use of force.

Were You Bitten by a Dog?

If you suffer from a dog bite or attack, you are most likely entitled to damages. In addition to compensatory damages, you may be entitled to punitive damages in some cases. It is important to contact an experienced dog bite attorney to help you assess damages and file a claim in court. The Peace Law Firm has significant experience in helping dog bite victims get the compensation they deserve.

Drawing on our experience, you can rest easy knowing that whatever happens in your case, we have dealt with it before. Our mission is to help guide you through the claims process so you can focus on recovering from this traumatic experience. Let us do the heavy lifting; contact us today for a free consultation!

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