Dog bites and other injuries suffered by animals are quite common in South Carolina. Traditionally, a person injured by a domesticated animal had to show the owner was keeping a dangerous animal and knew or should have known of its dangerous propensities. Therefore, the cause of action was in negligence. For injuries caused by animals other than dogs, the negligence standard still applies. However, in the case of an injury caused by a dog, the standard is now per se, or absolute liability. This rule is codified by the South Carolina Legislature at S.C. Code §47-3-110 and makes a dog owner absolutely liable for injuries suffered by a person who is “bitten or otherwise attacked.”
Are there any defenses to a dog bite case in South Carolina?
On the other hand, a person may not be able to win a lawsuit if bitten by a dog for the following two reasons: First, if the person who was attacked was harassing or provoking the dog. Second, if the person who was attacked was trespassing at the time of the attack.
How quickly must I file a lawsuit when attacked by a dog?
If injured in a dog attack, the injured person must file a lawsuit within three years. Although the action may be filed as late as three years after the injury, it is best to act quickly so that important research and investigation can be accomplished.
Below is the entire statute relating to liability or dog attacks.
Liability to Person Bitten or Otherwise Attacked by Dog
SECTION 47 3 110. Liability for attacks by dogs, provoked attacks, trained law enforcement dogs.
(A) 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. For the purposes of this section, a person bitten or otherwise attacked 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, when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property in the performance of a duty imposed upon the person by the laws of this State, the ordinances of a political subdivision of this State, the laws of the United States of America including, but not limited to, postal regulations, or when the person bitten or otherwise attacked is on the property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the property owner or a lawful tenant or resident of the property.
(B) 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; or
(2) the dog was working in a law enforcement capacity with a governmental agency and in the performance of the dog’s official duties provided that:
(a) the dog’s attack is in direct and complete compliance with the lawful command of a duly certified canine officer;
(b) the dog is trained and certified according to the standards adopted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council;
(c) the governmental agency has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of dogs in the dog’s official law enforcement duties;
(d) the actions of the dog’s handler or dog do not violate the agency’s written policy;
(e) the actions of the dog’s handler or dog do not constitute excessive force; and
(f) the attack or bite does not occur on a third party bystander.