Dogs have long been known as man’s best friend. They have been providing companionship, loyalty and endless tail wags. However, there is another side to this tale of friendship when the unthinkable happens: a dog bite. Suddenly, the bond between man and dog takes a treacherous turn, leaving individuals with painful injuries. In such unfortunate cases, dog bite lawsuits come into play, providing a legal avenue to seek justice and compensation.
Strict liability in North Carolina
Unlike some states that follow the “one-bite” rule, North Carolina operates under strict liability laws for dog bite cases. It means that dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dogs. This is regardless of prior knowledge or the dog’s history of aggression. You have a legal basis to seek compensation if you can establish that the dog has bitten you and that you have suffered compensable damages.
In North Carolina, to establish liability in a dog bite lawsuit, you need to demonstrate the following:
- Dog ownership: The first step is establishing that the defendant owns the dog involved in the incident.
- Dog bite or injury: You must provide evidence that you sustained injuries from the dog bite or other harmful actions caused by the dog.
- Lack of provocation: It is crucial to show that the dog’s actions were unprovoked and that you were not engaged in reasonably provocative or antagonistic behavior.
You may seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney specializing in dog bite cases who can help you gather evidence, assess the strength of your claim and negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company to secure a fair settlement.
Compensation for dog bite injuries
If you have been bitten by a dog in North Carolina, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses: You can seek compensation for past and future medical bills, including emergency treatment, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation and therapy.
- Lost wages: If the dog bite caused you to miss work, resulting in lost income, you could claim compensation for those wages. Additionally, if it impacts your earning capacity in the long term, you may be eligible for compensation for future lost earnings.
- Pain and suffering: Dog bite injuries can cause physical pain, emotional distress and mental anguish. You may seek compensation for the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the incident.
- Scarring and disfigurement: If the dog bite results in permanent scarring or disfigurement, you may be entitled to additional compensation to account for the impact on your appearance and quality of life.
It is important to note that North Carolina follows a contributory negligence rule, which can affect your ability to recover compensation. If, say, the court determines that you contributed in any way to the dog bite incident, even if only slightly, they may bar you from recovering damages. Insurance companies and defense attorneys may try to argue that you were partially at fault to diminish their client’s liability.
While dogs may indeed be our loyal companions, the unfortunate reality is that dog bites can occur, leading to painful injuries and legal complexities. If you find yourself involved in a dog bite lawsuit in North Carolina, remember that you have legal rights and options for seeking compensation.