A Comprehensive Guide to South Carolina Dog Bite Laws

A loose jack russell terrier dog barking in an empty lot.

Dogs are a part of many people’s daily lives, and dog bite injuries are an unfortunate consequence that their neighbors, family members, and acquaintances sometimes have to deal with. Each day, nearly 1,000 people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for nonfatal dog bite-related injuries. And South Carolina, sadly, ranks among the top 10 states for fatal dog attacks.

An Insurance Information Institute report found that dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claim dollars paid out in 2021. Nationwide, this equaled $881 million.

If you have been bitten by a dog, you can fight for compensation for the harms and losses you may have suffered.

Before you file a claim, you should know more about South Carolina dog bite laws. Not knowing the law can result in mistakes that cost you significant compensation.

How South Carolina Law Protects Dog Bite Victims

If you have been attacked by a dog in South Carolina, the law states that the dog’s owner, or handler, can be found liable (responsible) for your injuries if the following three conditions exist:

    1. Your injuries were caused by the dog bite or attack.


    1. You were not trespassing when attacked by the dog.


    1. You did not provoke the dog into attacking you.


If you have been attacked by a dog in SC, you may have a claim if your injuries were caused by the dog, you were not trespassing & you did not provoke the dog.

Insurance companies may try to prove that their clients were not liable when their dog attacked by focusing on the last two conditions of the law. If you were trespassing on the dog owner’s property, the law may not find them liable for your injuries. Likewise, if you provoked the dog into attacking you by teasing it roughly or abusing it, the dog’s owner may not be found liable.

As dog bite laws differ by state, you want an experienced lawyer who understands how to counter South Carolina insurance company tactics.

Learn More: Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

South Carolina’s Strict Liability Rule for Dog Attacks

South Carolina’s Dog Bite Statute follows a “strict liability rule” that applies when people are bitten or otherwise attacked and injured by a dog the very first time. While many states have a “one bite rule” (i.e. the dog owner is generally only liable after the dog bites one previous time), the strict liability rule allows dog attack victims to seek compensation for their injuries without having to prove that the dog had a history of being dangerous or having an owner that failed to control him.

Put another way, strict liability means that dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the dog owners were at fault.

And the strict liability rule applies for more than just dog bite injuries. For example, if you, or a loved one, break an arm when a dog knocks you over, you may have a claim worth pursuing in South Carolina. And, in extreme cases, if a family member dies from injuries sustained in a dog attack, you can file a wrongful death claim.

In SC dog owners are strictly liable. In NC they must have known the dog was liable to bite.

South Carolina Law Requires Registration of Dangerous Animals

South Carolina law (Section 47-3-760) requires that the owner of a dog identified as a “dangerous animal” (one that has attacked before or has a tendency for attacking) register and confine the animal.

Breed-Specific Legislation in South Carolina

Breed-specific legislation is dog law that aims to prevent dog attacks by limiting the public’s exposure to and regulating ownership of breeds identified as dangerous dog breeds. Currently in South Carolina, there are several municipalities that presume pit bulls to be dangerous, and one considers Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, and chow chows to be vicious as well.

One SC municipality considers pit bulls, rottweilers, dobermans, and chow chows to be dangerous.

You May Deserve Compensation for Your Dog Bite Injury

If you are a dog bite victim, you do not have to fight the insurance company alone. The insurance company is not on your side, and most keep more by paying you less. Our personal injury attorneys can help you move your claim forward by:

    • handling the paperwork and adhering to filing deadlines


    • building your case and calculating the potential value of your claim


    • dealing with the insurance company and their delay tactics


    • representing you in court, if necessary


After a dog bite injury, you should be able to focus on healing, rather than dealing with the insurance company. We have the inside knowledge and experience to take them on for you. We have been fighting for the rights of injured people since 1997 and have generated more than $1.6 billion in total compensation for 60,000+ clients.1

We will fight for you to get as much compensation as possible, as quickly as possible.

“Thank you James Scott Farrin for your patience, diligence, and knowledge in handling my injury case.” – Trinedda M, happy South Carolina client1

Call us today at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Many Dog Bite Claims in South Carolina?

The Insurance Information Institute reported that there were 307 dog bite claims in South Carolina in 2019 which places it in the top 20 states for dog bite claims.

Do Dog Bites Have to Be Reported in South Carolina?

South Carolina law requires that dog bites be reported to the county health department. This requirement is included in Section 47-5-90 which addresses rabies control, and it assigns the reporting responsibility to the treating physician or to the person bitten (or parent/guardian of minor victims) if the bite is not treated by a doctor.

Can You Sue the Owner of a Dog That Bites You?

You can file a personal injury claim with the dog owner’s insurance company for compensation for your injuries. If the insurance company denies the claim, you can sue the owner or handler of the dog for your harms and losses. Dog bite cases can be complicated. We encourage you to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney for your particular situation.

About the Author

Alexandria Tuttle practices personal injury law in North Carolina for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Her journey includes working full-time as a lead paralegal for the firm during the day and attending law school at night for four straight years. She strives to make a personal connection with her clients and find the right way to explain the many steps of a case. In addition to being an active member of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin’s Social Services Committee, Alexandria is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association.