Articles Posted in Dog Bites

dogThree kids were bitten by a dog in south Charlotte in September. The kids were playing on the road one evening when a two-year-old Labrador retriever mix that was off leash began chasing them and bit them. The owner of the dog had been doing yard work and left the yard open. Kids inside the home opened a door to the backyard to let the dog out, and it escaped through an open gate. One of the kids was taken to the Children’s Hospital. The dog was surrendered to animal control for a rabies quarantine.

In North Carolina, someone bitten by a dog has multiple different theories under which he or she can sue for damages. The first is the North Carolina dog bite statutes. A dog owner can be held strictly liable for a dog bite to a person if he willfully, knowingly, and intentionally violates the rule against dogs running at large under North Carolina General Statutes section 67-12. This rule applies only to a dog that is unaccompanied by the owner or another family member or person and that is running at large.

When this law doesn’t apply, a dog owner might be held strictly liable under section 67-4.4. The issue in that case is whether the injuries were inflicted by a dangerous dog. A dangerous dog is defined as one that is at least six months old and running at large at night, that previously hurt or killed others, or that was previously declared dangerous or potentially dangerous by officials.

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dog attackIn a recent incident, a passenger on an airplane was attacked by an emotional support dog. The dog was a mixed lab, and the victim was sitting in a window seat with the dog and his owner, a North Carolina Marine veteran, next to him. After the attack, which happened before the flight took off, the victim was drenched in blood. The police came to the scene, and the dog and his owner were booked to a later flight with the dog flying in a kennel.

Although dogs are beloved pets and often provide emotional support formally, they can act in unpredictable ways or ways not anticipated by their particular owners. The harm that dogs are capable of inflicting is tremendous and may include injuries so severe they are fatal. In North Carolina, you have three years after suffering injuries from a dog bite to file a lawsuit against the owner. In most cases, you will not be able to have your case heard or to recover damages if you wait for more than three years after being bitten to file suit.

Under section 67 of the North Carolina General Statutes, a dog owner may be liable for damages if you can prove it was a dangerous dog and it injured you. Unlike some other states, this law applies even if there was no bite and the injuries were inflicted by some other means, such as the dog knocking you over.

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dogIf you are bitten by someone else’s dog in North Carolina, you may be able to recover compensation. You may be able to sue for compensation under the dog bite statute, as well as using multiple different doctrines, including negligence, negligence per se (negligence as a matter of law), scienter (also known as common law strict liability), and intentional torts. The dog bite statute only applies to dogs that are at least six months old and are running at large during the night, have previously hurt or killed someone, or were officially declared dangerous or potentially dangerous prior to biting you. The law governing compensation for dog bites is complex in North Carolina.

In a recent North Carolina appellate case, the plaintiff appealed from an order granting summary judgment for the defendant in a dog bite case. The case arose because the defendant’s brother owned two pit bulls that he kept at his other sister’s home in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The defendant had a residence next door to her sister, but neither of them lived in their residences. The sister’s residence didn’t have running water or electricity, so the brother would sometimes use water from the house owned by the defendant to nourish his pit bulls.

In 2013, the plaintiff (a neighbor) was bitten by the pit bulls after they ran from the defendant’s house and attacked him. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the brother and the two sisters. He sued for negligence per se and strict liability. The defendant asked that the lawsuit be dismissed for a failure to state a claim. The trial court dismissed the strict liability claim but denied the motion with regard to negligence per se.

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dog width=In Stephens v. Covington, a North Carolina appellate court considered a dog bite case. The Hewetts leased a home from the defendant’s husband, Mr. Covington, who knew they owned a Rottweiler. The houses were close together, so the Hewetts and Mr. Covington contacted animal control about safety measures. At the direction of Animal Control, they posted signs and fenced and gated an area in the backyard.

Before they bought the property, the dog got so large that the Hewetts began to keep him only in the fenced area. The plaintiff was eight years old when he visited the Hewetts’ nine-year-old son. During the visit, the plaintiff followed the Hewetts’ son into the fenced area. While they were standing there, the dog bit the plaintiff in the leg. The Hewetts’ son hit the dog with a stick to get him to let go, but he couldn’t get him to let go and went to get his mom. The dog bit the plaintiff again in the shoulder and again wouldn’t let go.

The mother released the eight-year-old from the dog, and a neighbor grabbed the boy and pulled him over the fence away from the dog. The plaintiff suffered severe injuries. Animal Control investigated and got statements. The dog was kept quarantined at the animal shelter, and the Hewetts decided they would euthanize him.

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