Dog Bite Attorney in Raleigh, NC
Nearly 5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. While not all dog bites are considered severe, about 1,000 people in the U.S. require emergency medical care for serious dog bite injuries every day. About 9,500 people are hospitalized due to dog bite injuries every year. Dog bites cause approximately 33 fatalities a year.
A dog attack can cause extreme suffering, particularly if your child is bitten by a dog, or you are the victim of a dog bite. Any dog can bite if it feels threatened.
If you or someone you love is bitten by a dog that was owned by someone else, knowing your rights can make a world of difference in how the injury affects your life and future. You may be entitled to seek compensation from the dog owner through his or her insurance company. Homeowners’ insurance policies paid out $675 million in liability claims related to dog bite injuries in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm insurance.
A NC dog bite attorney at Hardison & Cochran can act as your advocate in dealing with insurers and demand dog bite compensation for you. Hardison & Cochran assists dog bite and dog mauling victims who have been badly injured throughout the state of North Carolina, including Raleigh, Cary, Durham, and Fayetteville. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss how a dog attack lawyer may assist you.
North Carolina Dog Bite Laws
Dog bite laws differ from state to state. North Carolina law imposes liability on the owners of a dangerous dog if the animal causes injuries. N.C. General Statute 67-4.4 is clear and succinct: “The owner of a dangerous dog shall be strictly liable in civil damages [compensation] for any injuries or property damage the dog inflicts upon a person, his property, or another animal.”
Under NCGS 67-4.1, a “dangerous dog” is defined as a dog that:
- Without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person; or
- Is determined by the person or county or municipal board responsible for animal control to be potentially dangerous because the dog has engaged in one or more of the following aggressive behaviors:
- Inflicting a bite on a person that resulted in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization
- Approaching a person when not on the owner’s property in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack
- Killing or inflicting severe injury upon a domestic animal [another pet or livestock] when not on the owner’s real property.
There are certain conditions that can release a dog owner from being held liable for the dog’s actions, such as the bite victim provoking the dog or the victim trespassing at the time of the attack.
North Carolina cities and counties can enforce their own programs for dog control. These local ordinances, such as leash laws, may apply to dog ownership, handling, and liability. These rules and regulations will be enforced along with state law.
Dog bite law can be confusing if you are not familiar with it. In general, if you have been bitten by someone else’s dog in an unprovoked attack and have suffered broken bones or other injuries that caused you to be hospitalized, you may have a right to demand dog bite compensation. In some cases, if you have suffered injury or losses after being threatened by a dog, you may have a valid claim.
Our Raleigh injury lawyers understand North Carolina dog bite laws. If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog and seriously injured, our experienced dog bite lawyers are ready to assist you. We understand that you are going through a difficult time. We will protect your legal rights.
What Can I Sue for After a Dog Bite or Attack?
North Carolina law says you may seek compensation for any injuries or property damage another person’s dangerous dog inflicts upon you, your property, or another animal that you own.
In most dog bite claims, most if not all of the damages will be related to the victim’s injuries. Dog attacks can lead to a variety of serious wounds, such as:
- Lacerations, including puncture wounds and deep cuts or torn flesh, muscle, and other soft tissue
- Broken bones from the crushing bite of a large dog or from being knocked to the ground
- Additional impact wounds from being knocked down, such as head injuries, including concussion or more severe traumatic brain injury (TBI); back and spine injuries; or cuts and bruises
- Infection or disease, including rabies, tetanus or bacterial sepsis.
Any of these injuries can lead to hospitalization. Bites to the face may cause disfiguring injuries and will likely require cosmetic surgery.
A dog bite claim or lawsuit might seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses related to the injury
- Lost income during recovery or due to loss of earning ability
- Property damage, such as to broken eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the care and companionship of a loved one.
Some people suffer dog bite injuries in the course of trying to intervene and rescue a pet that is being attacked by a vicious dog. Compensation for the loss of a pet to an attack by a dangerous dog might include veterinarians’ fees and property damage.
What to Do After A Dog Bites You
If you have been bitten by a dog and wounded or your loved one has been injured, you should take immediate action.
- Seek medical attention. If you are severely injured, call 911 for emergency medical assistance. Once a paramedic and/or doctor treats your wounds, it is important for your health that you follow their instructions for further care.
- Secure the dog. If the dog is a stray, and you can do so without risking further injury, pen the dog in a fenced yard, garage or other enclosure. If you know who the dog belongs to, contact them to advise them of the dog attack and to have them come and get the dog. If you cannot safely secure the dog and do not know the animal, try to take photos or video of the dog.
- Call the police and/or animal control officials. Tell them what happened, answer questions and follow their instructions, but don’t downplay your injuries or make excuses for the dog or its owner. Give authorities contact information for the dog owner if you have it.
- Inquire about rabies vaccination. If you can do so without risking injury, see whether the dog has tags indicating a veterinarian’s name and/or that it has had its shots. If the owner of the dog is available, ask about the dog’s shots and get the name of the veterinary office that administered the vaccination. If the dog is a stray or unknown to you and showed signs of rabies – foaming at the mouth, biting or snapping at random objects – tell the responding paramedics and/or emergency room doctors. If the dog has rabies or the animal cannot be identified as having been vaccinated, a dog bite victim may have to undergo a series of rabies shots.
- File an insurance claim. If you have health care insurance, be sure to notify your carrier of your injury and open a claim file. Other losses may be covered by dog owner’s insurance, so contact your insurer to open a claim. If you seek compensation from the dog owner’s insurance carrier(s), your insurer(s) will initially contact theirs.
- Contact a dog bite attorney. Obtaining compensation through the dog owner’s insurance will require demonstrating the dog owner’s responsibility for your injury. An insurance company is likely to be reluctant to pay for all of your losses, which may be a significant amount of money. A dog bite attorney experienced with dog bite claims under North Carolina law can gather evidence of the dog owner’s liability, calculate all of the injury losses you have incurred, and advocate for a settlement that addresses the full extent of your losses.
How Can a NC Dog Bite Lawyer Help?
The dog bite attorneys at Hardison & Cochran know how North Carolina dog bite law, personal injury law and insurance law apply to claims for compensation after dog bites and maulings. You may be unable to work for a lengthy period after the trauma of a dog attack and experience loss of income. You should explore the legal options available to you. We will build a solid case and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance companies for full compensation for your injuries and related losses.
Most people have never been involved in a serious accident before and are unfamiliar with their right to compensation for injuries unjustly inflicted upon them. We will advocate for you, and you need not be concerned about potentially suing a neighbor or acquaintance. Insurance companies pay dog bite claims, not dog owners. We will handle all legal work, most of which is processed directly with insurers.
If you or a loved one has been attacked and injured by a dog in Raleigh, contact an experienced dog bite attorney. Hardison & Cochran represents personal injury and accident victims throughout the state of North Carolina, including Raleigh, Cary, Wilmington, and Fayetteville.