Charleston Dog Bite Lawyer
As medical technology has advanced over the past several decades, the average dog bite injury settlement has increased as well. Today, doctors better understand the severe physical and emotional injuries that these victims sustain. At some level, the owner’s failure to control the animal almost always causes these injuries. So, it makes sense that owners should be liable for compensation.
Because dog bite settlements have increased so much, there is more at stake, and insurance companies fight these claims more vigorously. So, you need an equally vigorous Charleston dog bite lawyer from the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm on your side. We always pay close attention to the details in these cases, like the specific location of an animal attack. These details often mean the difference between fair compensation and settling for less.
Your Legal Options
Some states have owner-friendly laws which significantly limit liability. Others have middle-of-the-road laws which are supposed to protect victims and owners, but in practice do neither thing. South Carolina has one of the most victim-friendly dog bite legal schemes in the county. Victims basically have two legal options. Each one has some pros and cons.
- Strict Liability: Owners are automatically “liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked.” This includes both economic and noneconomic damages. Additionally, the statute includes both knockdown injuries and bite injuries. One possible problem is that this law is so broad, many jurors, who are pet owners themselves, believe it unfairly penalizes dog owners.
- Scienter (Knowledge): Owners are also liable for all damages if they knew the animal was potentially vicious and failed to control it. Even most pet owners agree with this idea. Evidence of viciousness includes pre-bite behavior, like aggressive barking, and prior attacks against people or animals. Obviously, the more limited scienter doctrine is only available in some situations.
Dog bites also have very high infection rates. These infections are normally life-threatening to people with pre-existing conditions. Usually, our Charleston dog bite lawyers must file separate legal actions to obtain compensation for these injuries.
Some Possible Defenses
Provocation is a defense, even in strict liability claims. Assumption of the risk is usually a defense in scienter negligence claims.
Casually, provocation could be accidental. Sudden moves and loud noises often provoke some animals. Additionally, provocation is normally not a physical act. But things are different in court. People cannot accidentally provoke animals. Additionally, the provocation must be physical as well as verbal. Basically, the victim must practically torture the animal in order to legally provoke it.
Assumption of the risk usually involves a “Beware of Dog” or other warning signs. If the victim saw the sign, could read it, and could understand what it meant, the assumption of the risk defense might apply. The insurance company has the burden of proof on each point.
Contact a Diligent Charleston County Dog Bite Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to fair compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Charleston dog bite lawyer, contact the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.