North Carolina: Laws and Dog Owners

by Lisa Coleman on June 19, 2013

Dogs are considered to be man’s best friend. They are loyal companions, helpers to the disabled, and playmates for children. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, breeds and colors. They also come with all types of temperaments.

A dog may become aggressive due to breeding, treatment, or inherent tendencies. This is a risk that dog owners take when they select a dog, and it is a risk that others must take when they encounter that same dog. When a dog becomes aggressive and bites someone other than its owner, the owner may be liable for the damages caused by that bite. However, under North Carolina law, there are circumstances that must apply to the situation for the owner to be liable.

When an Owner can be Held Liable for a Dog Bite

North Carolina law can be complicated regarding dog bites. Known as “one-bite-free,” if the dog bite was the first offense for a dog, the owner may not be held liable for the actions, regardless of severity. However, there are two exceptions to this regulation. If the dog is over six months old and was left out at night to roam free, the owner can be held liable for a first time bite. Additionally, if the dog is classified as a “potentially dangerous breed” the owner can be liable for the dog’s actions.

Local laws will also play a large part in determining whether or not an owner can be held liable for a first time bite. Different cities have laws determining what a dangerous breed is, and some cities rule that specific breeds of dogs are outlawed. Dogs can also be labeled as “dangerous” without previously biting someone if:

• The dog has terrorized a person off of the owner’s property in the past and the event was documented with the authorities. A bite does not have to be involved in the incident.
• The dog has seriously injured or killed another animal while on the owner’s property.
• The dog has bitten someone and that bite resulted in a serious injury on or off the property of the owner.

When to Call an Attorney

If you have been attacked by a dog, you will need report the attack immediately to the authorities and seek immediate medical attention. Once you have received medical attention, you should contact a local personal injury law firm that represents cases about dog bites. Contact one in the area local to where the attack occurred.

For example, if the attack occurred in Charlotte, a Charlotte personal injury lawyers group, where they know all the local laws of where the attack occurred, will be the most knowledgeable to be able to inform and defend you of your rights for that area. Under North Carolina law, you may be able to make a claim for:

• Medical bills associated with the injury. This may also include plastic surgery to help remove or cover any scarring from the incident. Medical bills can also cover counseling sessions for children who often suffer from reoccurring nightmares and fear of all animals after they have been bitten.
• Lost income for the time you miss receiving treatment for the injury. This may also include any future lost income if you are unable to return to work right away.
• Pain and suffering. This is especially true in severe attacks that take long recuperation periods.
• Loss of consortium. This entails losing the ability to enjoy your spouse or family.
• Property damage for anything that was damaged by the dog.

While there is no way to completely protect yourself from a dangerous dog, you should always remember not to approach a dog you do not know. Even though dogs are the most common type of house pet, they are still animals and should be treated with caution and respect.

Researcher Lisa Coleman writes to share her knowledge of what North Carolina mandates to be law in regards to ownership of a dog. At Auger & Auger Attorneys at Law, a Charlotte personal injury lawyers firm, they understand and are knowledgeable to inform and represent any injured party that has been a victim of a dog bite.

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