Dog owners are certainly allowed to enjoy their pets, but only within the confines of the law.
Animals cannot be allowed to bite or injure you. If they do, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
North Carolina dog bite law is more complex than statutes in other states, and you need a local, respected lawyer to help you prove that you deserve a settlement check. The Jacksonville, NC dog bite attorneys at Horton & Mendez can gather the evidence that you need and negotiate for the maximum possible compensation for you.
North Carolina Uses the “One Free Bite” Rule
North Carolina is not one of the many states that imposes strict liability for any type of dog bite.
There is a threshold that you must meet before the dog owner would be liable for your injuries.
North Carolina is one of the states that applies the “one free bite” rule. The dog owner is only liable for the injuries caused by their dog when you can prove that the animal was dangerous.
For purposes of North Carolina law, a dog is considered dangerous when it has “without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person.” A dog could also be potentially dangerous when Animal Control determines that it has engaged in certain dangerous behaviors that can include killing another domestic animal off the owner’s property or approaching a person in a vicious or threatening manner.
Without a dog bite attorney, it can take some investigation and hard work for you to learn the dog’s history to be able to establish that it is dangerous, such that the owner should be strictly liable.
Dangerous Dog Laws in North Carolina
Once the dog is determined to be dangerous, a set of laws apply that is intended to keep you safe.
North Carolina’s dangerous dog laws are as follows:
- The dog’s owner is strictly liable for any dog bite injuries
- The dog’s owner commits a misdemeanor when a dangerous dog attacks a person and causes physical injuries requiring medical treatment more than $100.00
- The owner cannot leave a dangerous dog unattended on the owner’s real property unless the dog is confined indoors
- The owner cannot permit a dangerous dog to go beyond the owner’s real property unless the dog is leashed and muzzled (there is a mandatory leash law whenever a dangerous dog is involved)
In addition to dangerous dog laws, some North Carolina counties and municipalities may have a mandatory dog leash law. If there is a dog leash law, and the owner was not following it at the time you were attacked, the owner may be negligent per se, regardless of whether the dog was dangerous.
Injuries from Dog Bites
Roughly 800,000 people each year require medical treatment for dog bite injuries. There is a particular danger any time that a dog bite punctures the skin.
Small children are even more likely to be seriously injured by a dog bite. They may be bitten on their face and neck because the dog is more on their height level. Then, they can suffer from serious and lifelong injuries.
Dog bite injuries may include:
- Bone fractures
- Cuts and lacerations
- Nerve damage
- Eye injuries
- Tendon damage
- Muscle injuries
One of the potentially serious complications from a dog bite is a potential infection. Dog saliva contains hundreds of different types of bacteria. You may even begin to feel the effects of a possible infection within hours after the dog bite.
Whose Insurance Pays for a Dog Bite Injury?
If you are able to prove that the dog was dangerous, the dog owner’s homeowners insurance would cover your damages. The insurance company would be required to pay both your economic and non-economic damages, up to the amount of the policy limit. Homeowners’ insurance policies are notorious for not wanting to pay you everything that you are entitled to in any type of claim.
Until then, your health insurance provider would pay for your medical expenses. They would be reimbursed from the proceeds of your settlement, should you receive one.
Damages from Dog Bite Injuries
Financial compensation may be available after you have been injured by a dog. Do not pay much attention to the “average dog bite settlement” data that insurers put out every year. Your case is worth exactly what you have suffered in damages, without regard to what someone else may have received at another point in time.
You may be entitled to receive the following in a dog bite settlement:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Embarrassment and humiliation
The damages can be even higher if you have lingering effects of the dog bite, including post-traumatic stress disorder. There may even be a chance that you could require reconstructive or plastic surgery if your injuries are serious enough. Our personal injury attorneys in Jacksonville, NC will work to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or file a lawsuit to maximize your dog bite compensation.
The size of your dog bite injury settlement is a function of several factors:
- The severity of your injuries
- The amount of insurance that the dog’s owner has and the assets that they may have to pay a judgment
- How hard you negotiate with the insurance company for top dollar for your claim and whether you settle or have the jury decide your case
Contact a Jacksonville Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, you may be entitled to a settlement check or jury award. You should not just settle for anything. Instead, you need to maximize the value of your dog bite injury claim. At Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys, our Jacksonville, NC dog bite lawyers have helped numerous clients like you in a similar position as you. We want to help get the money that you deserve in these complex injury cases.