South Carolina Dog Bite Laws & Liability
Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic and painful experience, but fortunately, South Carolina law is designed to protect individuals who have been harmed by someone else’s pet. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in South Carolina, it’s essential to know the relevant laws and understand liability so you can obtain the compensation you deserve.
Strict Liability For Dog Bites in South Carolina
South Carolina follows a strict liability rule, meaning that an owner cannot escape liability by arguing that they didn’t know or couldn’t have known their dog was dangerous. It is the owner’s responsibility to control their dogs and keep them from harming others.
This means there isn’t a “one-bite rule” in South Carolina. Even if it is the first time their dog bites or attacks someone, they are liable as long as the injured person was lawfully on the property where the dog is kept or in a public space:
“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.”
The primary exception to the dog bite laws is provocation: “This section does not apply if, at the time the person is bitten or otherwise attacked: (1) the person who was attacked provoked or harassed the dog and that provocation was the proximate cause of the attack.”
Statute of Limitations For South Carolina Dog Bites
If you’re bitten by a dog in South Carolina, it’s crucial to take action quickly. The statute of limitations for dog bite cases in South Carolina is three years from the date of the injury: “Within three years…an action for assault, battery, or any injury to the person or rights of another…”
One primary exception to the statute of limitations in South Carolina is what’s often referred to as the discovery rule. A person may file a dog bite lawsuit within three years after they “knew or, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known” that they had a cause of action.
For example, if a dog bit you and the injury remained hidden until it was later diagnosed or manifested, you may still have a chance to file a claim.
Understanding South Carolina Dog Bite Compensation
In South Carolina, victims of dog bites are entitled to various types of compensation, including the following:
Economic damages refer to the tangible losses a victim incurs due to a dog bite injury. These include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage from the incident.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are more difficult to quantify. These can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are subjective and don’t have a monetary amount tied to them.
Under South Carolina law, punitive damages can only be awarded if the plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted willfully, wantonly, or recklessly. Punitive damages punish the defendant and deter them from repeating similar actions.
If a dog bite has injured you or your loved one, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice and evaluate your options. Contact our Charleston dog bite lawyers to schedule a free consultation.