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After a dog bite in NC: A timeline and discussion of legal remedies.

Victims of animal attacks have options.

Dogs are a common pet in the United States, and for good reason. These animals can help encourage their owners to get out and get some exercise by going for frequent walks, help alert their owners to trespassers on property and provide solace by staying by the owner’s side.

Although there are many benefits to having a dog, it is important for every owner to take precautions as any dog can bite. If the bite results in serious injury, state law holds the dog owner legally accountable for the attack.

How common are dog bites in North Carolina?

According to a recent study by State Farm Insurance, North Carolina is one of the top states in the nation for dog bites. The insurance provider reports the state was responsible for 85 dog bite claims – keep in mind this number refers to insurance claims sent to one insurance provider. Many other insurance providers processed similar claims, meaning the actual number of dog bites in the state during that time was likely much larger.

What happens after a dog bite?

First, the victim should seek medical attention as needed. If possible, get names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the attack. It is also important to keep records to document the incident. This can include copies of bills and pictures of the injury.

When it comes to the dog, North Carolina state law requires the owner to confine the animal for 10 days. A failure to do so can result in a Class 2 misdemeanor. The local health director can also seize the animal and confine it for 10 days at the expense of the owner.

State law allows for additional criminal penalties to the owner if the attack involved a dog that was deemed “dangerous.” North Carolina law defines a dangerous dog as one who has killed or inflicted serious injury on a person without provocation.

Are there remedies for victims of a dog attack?

In order to move forward with legal remedies, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of how the system work. Dog bite cases generally use the legal theory of strict liability. This basically means the owner is automatically responsible for the actions of the dog.

Although state law aids the victim’s claim by using strict liability, insurance companies will likely try to dismiss or reduce the victim’s right to compensation. They may argue the victim somehow provoked the dog. Victims can better ensure they receive the compensation they deserve by seeking legal counsel. An attorney experienced in dog bite claims in North Carolina can review your case and discuss your options.