Around 40% of North Carolinians today own a dog. Dog bites are not always planned, and they can be completely unexpected or unprecedented. With pets occupying such an essential space in our lives, knowing an owner’s responsibilities and the liability of having a dog is important. In North Carolina, dog owners are responsible for the actions of their pets.
Some states have a “one-bite rule,” but North Carolina is a strict liability state regarding owners’ liability for the damages caused by their pets’ bites. Therefore, an owner is held responsible for any injuries inflicted by their dog, regardless of the animal’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of a bite history. North Carolina also follows the legal principle of “contributory negligence.” Under this principle, if the injured person is found to have contributed to the incident in any way, even by the slightest degree, they may be barred from recovering any compensation. This strict standard highlights the importance of proving the dog owner’s full liability without any contribution from the victim in causing the dog bite.
As a strict liability state, North Carolina holds dog owners responsible for any injuries their pets cause, regardless of prior behavior. While homeowner’s insurance may offer coverage in some cases, it is best to prevent dog bite incidents through responsible pet ownership.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in North Carolina for dog bite cases is three years from the date of the incident. This gives the injured party three years to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog. Not filing within three years may result in the claim being dismissed by the court, which would bar any further legal recourse for the victim.
Defenses for Dog Owners
While strict liability places significant responsibility on dog owners, certain defenses may be raised to reduce or eliminate their liability. These defenses include:
- Trespassing by the Victim: If the injured party was unlawfully on the dog owner’s property when the incident occurred, the owner may argue that they should not be held responsible for the injuries.
- Provocation: If the victim provoked the dog, the owner may argue that the injuries were a result of the victim’s actions and not due to the dog’s inherent aggressive behavior.
- Warning Signs: Displaying warning signs, such as “Beware of Dog,” on the property may serve as a defense for the owner, as it puts visitors on notice of the potential risks associated with the dog.
Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage
Homeowners’ insurance policies cover many dog bite incidents. If the dog owner has such insurance coverage, the policy may provide compensation for the victim’s medical expenses and other damages resulting from the dog bite. However, the specific terms and coverage limits of the insurance policy will dictate the extent of compensation available.
Contact an Expert Attorney at King Law
If you are dealing with a dog bite incident, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps. The experienced attorneys at King Law understand your stress and are dedicated to supporting you through this challenging ordeal. At King Law we are proud to serve our clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Our team is committed to protecting your rights and delivering the best possible results. To learn more about how our attorneys can help you, give us a call at (888) 748-KING (5464).