Dog owners have a responsibility towards others to ensure that their pets do not attack or otherwise harm them. Sadly, far too many dog owners fail to take the steps and precautions needed to prevent dog bites and attacks. As a result, dog bites cause hundreds of thousands of serious injuries each year in the United States.
At the Goings Law Firm, LLC, our team understands the pain and suffering those in Columbia and throughout South Carolina who have been the victim of a dog bite or attack go through. Fortunately, in order to ensure that the victims of dog bites and other attacks are not left to deal with the effects of their injuries by themselves, personal injury laws allow victims in these circumstances to seek compensation from the negligent owner for their undue suffering and losses.
South Carolina Dog Bite Law
Some states allow for a “one free bite” scenario. In those states, the dog owner or keeper is not liable for the dog’s attack if it was the first attack and the dog hadn’t otherwise shown any signs of aggressiveness. Fortunately, South Carolina dog bite and animal laws do not excuse a dog’s first bite or attack. South Carolina’s laws provides greater protection for dog bite victims. S. C. Section 47-3-110 provides “strict liability” against any dog owner or caretaker for any injuries sustained from dog attacks. In other words, whether a person is attacked by a dog in a public place or in a private place such as the dog owner’s home or yard, the dog owner is liable for any injuries. Also, a person who is caring for or keeping the dog, even if not the owner, can be liable for any injuries if the dog attacks a person. The only exception to this “strict liability” statute is if the victim provokes the dog into attacking. This defense is similar to contributory negligence in other types of cases. Another defense is often that the victim is unlawfully on the property or a trespasser.
Consequences of Dog Bites
Dog bites can cause victims to suffer a range of different injuries and harm. Some of the most common dog bite injuries are outlined below.
A dog attack can have serious consequences. Not only will you have to deal with the possibility of contracting rabies, you may end up hospitalized because of your injuries. Lacerations caused by dog bites can have serious consequences, including:
- Severe Bleeding
- Bacterial Infection
- Loss of Muscle Function
- Psychological Trauma
These dog bite laceration injuries can be expensive to recover from and may require surgery or extensive rehabilitation. As the victim of a dog attack, you should not have to shoulder the burden of paying for these treatments.
While dog bites may seem like minor injuries to anyone who hasn’t experienced one, there is a reason why a significant number of trips to the emergency room are attributed to being attacked by a dog. Whether the dog is large or small, the strength of a canine’s bite, combined with the transfer of bacteria from the dog’s mouth to an open wound, can result in severe wounds and infections for the victim of an attack. Unfortunately, puncture wounds from a dog’s teeth are a prime way for harmful bacteria to travel into the skin.
Depending on the severity and circumstances of your dog bite, there are various types of nerve damage you can suffer from, including:
- Neurapraxia: The least serious kind of nerve damage, which can cause a temporary loss of function.
- Axonotmesis: This occurs when a nerve is stretched, potentially causing paralysis. This is more serious than neurapraxia, and it may take a lot longer to heal from.
- Neurotmesis: This occurs when there is permanent damage to the nerve.
Regardless of the severity of your nerve damage or how long recovery time is expected to be, you can still recover compensation for your injuries from the owner of the dog.
Psychological and Emotional Trauma
Although there can be very serious physical damage resulting from a dog bite, there can also be emotional or psychological damage. Even though you cannot see it, it can affect people very seriously. Some examples include:
- Anxiety: After being a victim of a dog attack, a person can experience anxiety thinking about the incident. Even just returning to the place where it happened can be very stress-inducing to victims. Anxiety causes symptoms like cold and clammy hands and feet, sleep problems, panic, fear, rapid heart rate, nausea, losing appetite or overeating.
- Nightmares: A victim may begin having vivid and terrifying dreams of the attack. Having to relive this while one sleeps can result in insomnia, loss of appetite, lower immune system, or depression.
- Fear of dogs: After a victim has been through a traumatic experience with a dog, they often develop a fear of dogs. In extreme cases, victims may not be able to be in the same room with a dog anymore. Since there are so many dogs everywhere, this can lead the victim to have anxiety when they see one.
- Agoraphobia: Because of the increased anxiety towards dogs, victims can also develop a fear of leaving one’s house. If a person is scared of seeing a dog, they may never want to leave their house. This can completely prevent a person from leading a normal life.
The emotional effects of a dog bite can be extremely debilitating, especially for children whose brains are still developing.
All of these potential consequences of a dog bite attack cannot and should not be considered acceptable, and the owners of these animals need to be held accountable when they fail to ensure the safety of others.
Speak with a Dog Bite Attorney in Columbia, South Carolina
Many dog bites and attacks are preventable. Regrettably, the negligence of dog owners all too often allows innocent people to suffer extreme harm when a dog attacks. If you have been the victim of a dog bite or attack, call (803) 350-9230. Our lawyers at the Goings Law Firm, LLC, strive to help victims of dog bites to get the justice and financial compensation they deserve, and may be able to help you.