The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 4.5 million Americans get bitten by dogs each year, out of which 800,000 injuries are severe enough to require hospitalization. Unlike traffic accidents, dog attacks often lead to serious disputes over liability. Laws on who is responsible when an attack occurs vary from state to state, and even in the most straightforward cases, it can take time to navigate these issues. Therefore, it is essential to have the support of aggressive dog bite attorneys willing to investigate and, if required, file a lawsuit.
North Carolina dog bite cases typically involve showing either (a) that the dog by its very breed had a vicious propensity or (b) that the dog had previously attacked, placing its owner on notice of its vicious propensity. In some circumstances, showing that the dog had been negligently trained and socialized may be possible—similarly, the chances of winning liability in the courtroom increase if the owner violates a local ordinance.
Establishing an owner’s responsibility after a pet attack is a rigorous process in North Carolina. A plaintiff must show:
To prove owner liability in an animal attack case, the victim must demonstrate that the animal was predisposed to dangerous behavior and that the owner was aware of it. This awareness can be established through the animal’s prior conduct. In North Carolina, for instance, a dog’s propensity for danger can be proven by pointing to a previous attack. The “one-bite rule,” commonly misunderstood, applies in a few states, but it is not the sole method of proving owner liability.
If the dog owner was a tenant, our firm will also investigate whether the landlord is liable for your injuries. Landlord liability can be established where (1) the landlord knew the tenant had a vicious dog, (2) the landlord could remove the vicious dog, but (3) negligently failed to remove the vicious dog.
North Carolina is often referred to as a “one-bite” state, which means that a dog’s owner is only held liable if their pet has previously attacked someone. The first bite is a warning sign of the dog’s potential for violence. This prerequisite complicates some personal injury cases because you may need to find witnesses and evidence of previous attacks.
On the other hand, in “strict liability” states, the owner is responsible for ensuring that their pet does not harm anyone, with no exceptions. It does not matter if the owner knew their dog had dangerous tendencies or whether they could have prevented the attack. The dog owner is always legally responsible.
Although Maginnis Howard has successfully litigated under this traditional view of North Carolina law, the reality is more complex. Most states today are strict liability states, and only a handful are “one-bite” only. North Carolina is one of five states that implement both laws.
We will assist you with every aspect of your dog bite claim, including finding sources of financial recovery. Unlike a car accident, where there is almost always a source of insurance coverage to pay money damages – this is not always the case with dog attack claims. The owner of the dog may not have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance that provides coverage for your injuries, or the insurance company may file a “declaratory judgment” suit to argue that it should not have to provide coverage for your damages (for example, if the policyholder did not disclose that they owned a dog).
We will assist you with every aspect of your dog bite claim, including finding sources of financial recovery. Unlike a car accident, where there is almost always a source of insurance coverage to pay money damages – this is not always the case with dog attack claims. The owner of the dog may not have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance that provides coverage for your injuries, or the insurance company may file a “declaratory judgment” suit to argue that it should not have to provide coverage for your injuries (for example, if the policyholder did not disclose that he or she owned a dog). If such an insurance coverage suit is filed, our Raleigh dog bite attorneys will assist you both with your primary liability case and the coverage suit.
There are many damages available for dog bite victims in North Carolina. This includes:
For a legal team you can trust, contact the experienced attorneys at Maginnis Howard. Our results speak for themselves, and our clients are our priority. Go to our contact page for information about the Maginnis Howard location closest to you. We are conveniently located across the state in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Fayetteville.