Dog Bite and Animal Attack Lawyers in Asheville, NC
Dog Bite Attorneys
While dogs may be fantastic companions that many people couldn’t imagine living without, dogs can also be dangerous. When a dog feels threatened or frightened, it may attack. When it does, the victim may be left with serious injuries.
North Carolina ranks 14th in the country when it comes to dog bites, and had dog bite claims totaling nearly $2 million in 2016, According to The News & Observer.
If you have been bitten by someone else’s dog in North Carolina, our Asheville dog bite attorneys at the law office of The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC can help. We are prepared to help you understand the state’s dog bite laws, help you determine liability and how to recover payment, calculate the full extent of your losses, and work hard to pursue the compensation award that you deserve.
To learn more about our services and how we can be of assistance, please call us today for a free consultation.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?
When a dog attacks or bites another person, typically it is the owner of the dog who will be held liable for injuries.
North Carolina statutes address liability for a dog bite injury in the event that the dog is dangerous or is running at large during the nighttime. North Carolina General Statute Section 67-12 states that the owner of a dog will be held strictly liable for all damages caused to a person by their dog in the event that the dog is running “at large in the nighttime unaccompanied by the owner.”
A dog owner is also held strictly liable for harm caused by their dog under Section 67-4.4 if the dog is “dangerous.” A dangerous dog is defined by the statute as:
- One that has killed or injured a person or animal in the past without provocation
- One that has as been used in dogfighting in the past
- One that has been designated as dangerous by the county or municipal authority due to its previously demonstrated vicious tendencies
To summarize, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for harm if the dog has been declared dangerous or if the dog was running at large in the night when the dog attacked.
Even if you don’t have a strict liability claim against the owner of a dog that bit you, you may be able to bring a claim based on the dog owner’s negligence – that is, the lack of ordinary care. For example, if the dog owner knew that the dog could be aggressive yet failed to restrain the dog, then they may be held liable for damages based on their negligence.
Note that in in a dog bite claim, it is typically not the dog owner who will actually pay for a victim’s damages out of pocket, but rather the renters’ insurance or homeowners’ insurance of the dog owner. This may relieve concerns you have about bringing a claim if the dog that bit you is owned by a friend, relative, neighbor, or other acquaintance.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
There are three types of claims a dog bite victim can bring against the owner:
- Economic damages. When a person is bitten by someone else’s dog, they can almost always bring a claim for economic damages against the owner of the dog. Economic damages refer to any financial losses suffered by the victim, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or rehabilitation or therapy costs resulting from the dog bite.
- Personal damages. A dog bite victim may also be able to seek personal damages as well, which are compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
- Punitive damages. Rarely, a dog bite victim can seek punitive damages as well. These types of damages are designed to punish the defendant for their egregious actions. They are awarded only in the event that the victim’s injuries were a result of the defendant’s fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct.
What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog in Asheville
If you are attacked by a dog in Asheville or elsewhere in western North Carolina, you should act quickly. You need to seek medical care to ensure that injuries do not progress unnecessarily, and you need to start the claims process immediately.
Steps to take after you’ve been bitten by a dog in Asheville include:
- Get medical care. Dog bites can lead to serious injuries, ranging from bleeding to bone fractures to infections, including rabies in rare cases. If you don’t seek medical care, you are putting yourself at risk of greater complications. You are also jeopardizing your right to recover compensation for medical expenses.
- Notify the City of Asheville’s Animal Services Unit. You should immediately call the police or the City of Asheville’s Animal Service Unit and report the dog bite. This is important for your claim, serving as a type of evidence, and is also important for protecting other potential victims from the dog.
- Get the dog owner’s information. You’ll need to tell the dog owner about the bite as soon as possible, and get their information, including name and contact information, so that you can start the claims process.
- Hire an attorney. If your injuries are serious, you should hire an attorney for representation during your dog bite case. Your attorney can start building your claim and can pursue compensation on your behalf.
Understanding Complications from Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can potentially lead to short-term and long-term complications. These complications might include:
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Disability and an inability to work or care for oneself
- Infection and complications related to infection (disability, loss of use of limb, or even death)
- Psychological harm – It is not uncommon for a person who is bitten by a dog to develop a long-term fear of dogs, as well as psychological complications associated with their injuries and the experience, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Financial complications following a dog bite are common, too. These complications most often present themselves in the form of medical expenses and lost wages if the injured person is unable to return to work following the incident.
A knowledgeable injury lawyer in Asheville can help you maximize any potential monetary compensation for your dog bite claim. Contact our team today for a free consulation.
NC Dog Bite Laws
A dog owner can be held strictly liable when their dog is running at large at night at the time of the bite, or has been previously declared to be a dangerous dog. A dog owner may also be held liable for their negligence per se, the violation of a statute or ordinance.
In Asheville, dog owners are required to obtain a city license for their dog by the time the dog is six months of age, and both the license and a rabies license must be displayed at all times. All dogs must also be spayed and neutered. Dogs are also required to be on leash when on public property.
If an ordinance is violated and the violation of this ordinance contributed to the bite (for example, the dog would not have been able to bite another person on public property but for the fact that it was not on a leash), the dog owner could be held liable based on the theory of negligence per se.
Dog bite claims can be complicated and fact-sensitive. If you’ve been bitten and are seeking legal compensation, it’s important that you speak with an experienced Asheville injury lawyer. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Common Defenses in Dog Attack Cases
A dog owner may try to escape liability for damages resulting from a dog bite by claiming that they had no idea that their dog was dangerous, that they were not in violation of a statute or ordinance at the time of the dog bite, or that the dog bite victim did something to provoke or justify the attack, such as teasing or tormenting the dog, committing a crime, or trespassing at the time of attack.
If you were attacked and the dog bite owner is trying to shift responsibility for the attack onto your shoulders and escape liability, we can help.
How Our Asheville Dog Bite Attorneys Can Help
When you call our Asheville dog bite attorneys at the office of The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC, we will work hard to build your claim and seek the compensation award that you deserve.
To learn more about our legal services and how we can help you following a dog bite, please call our law office directly or request your free consultation by getting in touch with us online.