Why You Need Attorney for Dog Bite Case

Our attorneys work for dog bite victims in North Carolina

Dog bite injuries in North Carolina can be frightening and painful. In many cases, the attack happens while you or your child is visiting a friend or family member. You may feel uncomfortable pursuing compensation from a friend or family member, but you may have no other choice. A serious dog bite can have a long-term devastating impact emotionally and financially.

It's a wise move to contact a lawyer in North Carolina after you or someone you love was attacked by a dog. An attorney can discuss your rights and help you chart a course of action.

How an attorney can help you

When you hire an attorney for your dog bite case, you can have peace of mind knowing your lawyer is fighting to protect your rights. A competent dog bite attorney in North Carolina will know how to negotiate your claim with the insurance company.

The insurance company may offer a quick settlement that does not begin to cover the full costs associated with the injury. Our attorneys know how to assess the full financial and emotional impact of the injury. We may use medical professionals and other experts to show the insurance company the long-term impact of the attack.

As with all personal injury claims, it is up to the injured party to prove that the other party acted negligently in causing the accident — such as not fencing in a dangerous dog — and that the injury was a direct result of these actions.

North Carolina's 'One Bite Rule'

Dog bite cases can be complicated. North Carolina is one of 18 states that follows what is commonly known as a "One Bite Rule," also known as the "First Bite Rule" or "One Free Bite Rule." The rule basically shields the owner of domestic animals from liability to the animal's first victim. The name is somewhat misleading in that the rule applies to any injury inflicted by the dog, whether or not it was caused by a bite. The idea is that the dog owner had no way of knowing that the dog was dangerous prior to the first instance of injury.

However, North Carolina Law is even more complicated than this. In North Carolina, a dog owner is not strictly liable for a canine-inflicted injury unless he or she "intentionally, knowingly and willfully" allows a dog who is at least six months old to run at large, at night, unaccompanied by its owner or a member of the owner's family. This is a higher standard than in many states, where simply letting a dog run around at large is enough to prove negligence. This is true even if the dog's owner didn't let it roam "intentional, knowingly or willfully" and the event didn't occur at night.

Dog owners and liability

If the running at large prohibition is not violated, the dog owners might still have liability if the dog has killed or inflicted "serious" injury on a person, was previously declared dangerous by a governmental entity, or was used or kept for dog fighting. This is a very high standard to reach. In many states, simple knowledge of a dog's dangerous tendencies is enough to warrant liability. An official declaration by a governmental entity is not necessary. Furthermore, in many states any injury is a ground for liability, not just a "serious" one.

To make matters more complicated, North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. This means if the insurance company can prove you in any way contributed to the accident by not exercising reasonable care under the circumstances, you may be completely barred from obtaining compensation for your injuries.

Even a "minor" bite can have long-term health implications, including rabies, cellulitis and canimorsus infections. Agreeing to a settlement before these long-term costs are taken into account can leave you uncovered for future medical expenses and other costs.

Due to the complexity of North Carolina dog bite laws, the serious nature of dog bites and the potential long-term health complications of dog-related injuries, it is highly advisable to speak with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. Call today for a free, confidential conversation about your claim.

Contact a lawyer today

For a free and confidential case evaluation, contact a dog bite lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin today. Let us put our experience and resources to work for you. Tell the insurance companies you mean business.