Anyone injured by a dog bite in North Carolina can collect damages from the dog’s owner. Many state statutes are in place to cover dog attacks and bites, and it is important to understand the related terms that may come up when dealing with a dog bite claim.
What is Running at Large?
Running at large refers to dogs running alone at night without an owner or other responsible party being present. In North Carolina, dogs over six months who have not previously harmed anyone are subject to laws prohibiting running at large.
What is a Dangerous Dog ?
North Carolina law defines a dangerous dog as one that:
A dangerous dog is defined, by North Carolina law, as any dog who has killed or inflected severe injury on a person without provocation, any dog that is deemed dangerous for specific reasons, and any dog that was owned, raised, and trained to fight. Specific reasons that can cause a dog to be deemed dangerous by a county board or municipal authority include bites that break bones or cause disfigurement, attacks that kill or inflict severe injury on other domestic animals, or approaching others, off of the owner’s property as if to attack.
Types of Liability for Dog Bites
Several legal theories apply to proving liability for a dog bite in North Carolina.
Injuries that are inflicted under the running at large statute involve strict liability. If the dog is allowed to run at large and causes an injury, then the dog’s owner will be liable for all injuries and damages. If the dog is classified as dangerous, then strict liability also applies.
If the injured person can prove that the dog’s owner breached a duty of care, then negligence will apply. If the dog was not previously classified as dangerous, but the owner still failed to control the dog, then negligence is likely to be found. The likeliness of aggressive behavior from the dog breed may be a factor. The responsibility of protecting a child from the dog with adequate supervision will also be considered.
North Carolina has a one bite rule, which protects the dog owner from liability the first time that the dog injures someone. Then, if the dog injures someone again, the owner will be liable, having known at this time that the dog had a history of injuring a person.
If the dog owner violates a state animal control law, then negligence per se may apply. The plaintiff will have to prove a duty of care created by a statute or ordinance, a breach of that statutory duty, a causal relationship between the breach of duty and the injury sustained, that the injury is of nature established in the statute, and that the injury was proximately caused by the violation of the statute.
The Process of a Dog Bite Liability Claim
If you’ve been bitten by a dog and, you need to protect yourself and prepare for the possibility of filing a dog bite liability claim. Start by tending to your wounds. Seek medical treatment, even if the injuries are minor or superficial. Get information about the dog’s owner or whomever is with the dog at the time of the bite. Contact law enforcement as well because there may be criminal liability involved, depending on the specifics of the case. Law enforcement can also help with identifying the owner or responsible person if you are unable to. If you can , obtain the dog’s medical history. You should be able to find out of the vaccinations are up to date by contacting the dog’s vet.
Keep in mind that liability does not apply in all dog bite injury cases. For example, if you were trespassing or tormenting the dog, then the owner is not liable. If you abused or assaulted the dog, or if you were in the process of committing (or trying to commit) a crime, then you cannot hold the dog’s owner liable for your injuries and damages.