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If you are injured by a dog, or if your dog injures another person who is responsible for the medical bills? In South Carolina, we have a dog bite statute that provided for strict liability on the part of the dog owner. Simply put, if your dog bites someone and that person was not somewhere he wasn’t allowed to be or antagonizing your pet, then the dog owner will likely be on the hook to pay for the medical bills of the injured party.

SECTION 47-3-110. Liability for attacks by dogs, provoked attacks, trained law enforcement dogs.

  • If a person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping, the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. For the purposes of this section, a person bitten or otherwise attacked is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping, when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property in the performance of a duty imposed upon the person by the laws of this State, the ordinances of a political subdivision of this State, the laws of the United States of America including, but not limited to, postal regulations, or when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the property owner or a lawful tenant or resident of the property.
  • This section does not apply if, at the time the person is bitten or otherwise attacked:
    • the person who was attacked provoked or harassed the dog and that provocation was the proximate cause of the attack; or
    • the dog was working in a law enforcement capacity with a governmental agency and in the performance of the dog’s official duties provided that:
      • the dog’s attack is in direct and complete compliance with the lawful command of a duly certified canine officer;
      • the dog is trained and certified according to the standards adopted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council;
      • the governmental agency has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of dogs in the dog’s official law enforcement duties;
      • the actions of the dog’s handler or dog do not violate the agency’s written policy;
      • the actions of the dog’s handler or dog do not constitute excessive force; and
      • the attack or bite does not occur on a third party bystander.

HISTORY: 1986 Act No. 343; 2013 Act No. 62, Section 1, eff June 12, 2013.

[1] SECTION 47-3-110

It Doesn’t Have To Be A Bite

Keep in mind the language under section (A) when it says “otherwise attacked”, this opens the door to liability and injury claims even when the dog didn’t actually bite anyone. I have listed a few examples below of a few types of injuries that could be subject to coverage due to an attack only.

  • A large dog knocks down an elderly person causing a broken bone, etc.
  • A dog aggressively approaches, chases, corners a person who falls and injures themselves
  • A dog bites another animal and inadvertently knocks the owner down who is attempting to intervene in the attack.

The standard is what would a reasonable person have done in the same circumstances. For example, it may be reasonable for a person to flee from a large, unchained barking bulldog, but not reasonable for them to run from a 4-pound chihuahua. Whether or not the response was reasonable to the dog’s actions will determine what claims are valid.

Get Help With Your Injury Claim

Many homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for dog-related injuries that occur on private and in some cases public property. If you have been injured by a dog through no fault of your own, please contact Grooms and Thomas, LLC to speak to one of our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation on your potential case.