While many consider dogs to be man’s best friend, they can be protective and territorial to the point of violence. If you or someone you care for has been bitten or injured by a dog, a North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer can help you recover your losses.

The Bishop Law Firm offers free case reviews and we do not get paid unless we win. Call us or start your free case review now.


Dangerous Dog Breeds

Certain dogs are assumed to be more aggressive and thus dangerous dog breeds: Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Presa Canarias, and Chow Chows, to name a few.

While some breeds are deemed more aggressive, any dog can attack and cause severe injury. Under the wrong circumstances, even a Chihuahua can cause real damage to a dog bite victim.

Dog bite injuries can cause puncture wounds, scratches, broken bones, permanent scarring or even wrongful death. The risks are even greater if the dog attacks a little one. There is also risk of infection, nerve damage, rabies and tetanus, amongst other concerns.

We have written before about tips to avoid dog bites, but some dogs are so territorial and aggressive that there is nothing you can do to avoid injury.

Who is financially responsible for your medical bills and expenses if you are injured by a dog?

North Carolina Dog Bite Law

NC is a contributory negligence state which means that the victim must not be at fault (but see Last Clear Chance Doctrine) for their injury. This often results in unfair outcomes for victims, but it is the law in North Carolina.

If the injured victim is not at fault, they can be compensated for their dog bite related medical bills, lost wages and pain & suffering.

Approaching a strange dog and getting attacked, especially if they are in their own yard, may result in a finding of contributory negligence. While the injured party may feel that are they were helping the dog, the dog sees them as an intruder or threat.

Needless to say, to recover on a North Carolina dog bite claim, the facts must be carefully examined.

In North Carolina, there is no general leash law that applies to the entire state. Cities and counties have generally adopted local leash laws (ordinances) which animal control enforces. For example, in Raleigh, “it is against the law for domesticated animals such as dogs and cats to run unrestrained within the city limits.”

In other states, the one bite rule can shelter a dog owner from liability when their dog bites a victim. However in NC, dog bite victims can recover under simple negligence or under strict liability if the owner knew that their dog was dangerous.

What if the dog owner knew that their dog was “dangerous?”

According to NC Law, a “dangerous dog” is a dog who has inflicted serious injury or killed a person or is held for the sole purpose of dog fighting.

A “potentially dangerous dog” is a dog who has bit a person or killed a domestic animal outside of the owners property or has approached a person not on the owner’s property in a terrorizing way.

Owners of dangerous dogs are held to strict liability in civil damages for any dog attack injuries or property damage the dog inflicts upon a person, his/her property, or another animal.

Who pays for dog bite injuries?

In North Carolina, if you are injured or bitten by a dog through no fault of your own, the dog owner or home owner should pay for the injury.

Homeowner’s and renter’s policies often cover the pet owner when their dog attacks others. Some policies exclude certain breeds, but it is impossible to know whether the dog who attacked you is covered by the owner’s insurance without looking at the policy.

What can I be compensated for?

Lost Wages

A dog bite victim can assert a claim against the at-fault party for losing time from work because of his/her injuries. In order to seek recovery for lost wages, an injured person must document the actual days he/she missed due to their serious injury and this must be verified by their employer. The employer should provide payroll records stating how many days were missed from work and the injured victim’s rate of pay. Self employed individuals should read Lost Wages and Earning Capacity.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and Suffering in NC personal injury cases covers the physical pain and mental suffering that a victim has to endure due to the injury they have sustained. If you break your leg, you will experience not only physical pain but also mental and emotional distress. Unfortunately, injuries can leave us with scars that affect our self-esteem.

Medical Expenses- Past, Present and Future

In North Carolina, the dog or home owner is responsible for paying the dog bite related medical bills.  However, receiving compensation from the dog owner or their home owner’s insurance company can be a lengthy process, and medical providers want to be paid immediately for their rendered services. Many victims file their accident-related medical treatment on their private or government issued health insurance.

Scarring and Disfigurement

Unfortunately, injury can result in permanent scarring or disfigurement. Damages for personal injury includes fair compensation for the scarring or disfigurement which a victim suffers as a proximate result of the at-fault party’s negligence. Much like pain and suffering compensation, the amount of compensation for permanent scarring or disfigurement is determined by the extent of the alteration of the claimant’s physical appearance, and the embarrassment and mental suffering the individual will endure as a proximate result of the wrongful conduct.

Punitive Damages (in very specific cases)

In North Carolina, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and deter others from egregiously wrongful acts. To be awarded punitive damages, your attorney must first prove the defendant is liable for compensatory damages and at least one aggravating factor was present and related to your injuries for which you were awarded damages. The aggravating factor(s) must be proved by clear and convincing evidence.

Do you need a North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer?

Dog Bite Attorneys in North Carolina can often get a copy of the dog owner’s policy without filing a lawsuit, by convincing the dog owner to voluntarily give them a copy of their policy to avoid getting sued. Once sued, the owner of the dangerous dog must turn over a copy of their policy.

In addition to policy coverage, an attorney can recover money from the owner of the dog if your damages exceed the amount of their insurance coverage. Most homeowner’s policies have minimum coverage of $100,000. Some insurance companies refuse to write homeowner’s or renter’s policies that offer less than $300,000 in coverage.

In dog bite cases, it is paramount to research animal control records for the address where the dog bite occurred. Unfortunately, in our experience, it is usually not the first time that the dog has acted in a vicious or terrorizing manner.

Can I recover money if another dog attacks my dog?

Yes, you can recover money for damages to your dog if your dog was not at fault. Under North Carolina law, dogs are considered personal property.

This means you are not entitled to money for pain and suffering that your dog endured, but you are entitled to money for vet bills or the value of your dog. Even though dogs are considered property, insurance companies can give money in excess of the vet bills.

This happens because they are trying to reduce a generous award from a North Carolina jury, who may feel sympathy for your dog and give money for what your dog went through regardless of the law classifying your dog as property.

If you need help deciding what to do after a dog bite or attack, a NC Dog Bite Lawyer can help. Give us a call today for a free case evaluation at (919) 615-3095.

We represent dog attack victims in Raleigh, Cary, Fayetteville, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina.

Whether you consult a North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer or not, be sure to seek immediate medical treatment for yourself and your dog to lower the risk of infection.