What to do if You’ve Been Attacked by a “Dangerous Dog”

The North Carolina legislature has specifically defined a “dangerous dog,” and anyone who has been bitten or injured by a dangerous dog has special rights in this state.  Weaver, Bennett & Bland’s personal injury attorney, Dave Bland, outlines the special definition of “dangerous dog” in North Carolina, and then provides tips for anyone who has been injured by such an animal.

Article 1A of the North Carolina General Statutes imposes strict liability for injuries inflicted by dogs that fall within the definition of a “Dangerous Dog”.   The legislature has defined a “Dangerous Dog” as a dog that has either (1) without provocation killed or inflicted severe injury on a person; or has been determined by the county or municipal authority responsible for animal control to be potentially dangerous because the dog has (a) inflicted a bite on a person that has resulted in a broken bone or a disfiguring laceration or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization, or (b) killed or inflicted a severe injury upon a domestic animal when not on the owner’s real property, or (c) approached a person when not on the owner’s property in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack.

The legislature has made it unlawful for the owner of a “dangerous dog” (1) to leave a “dangerous dog” unattended on the owner’s real property unless the dog is confined indoors, or is locked in an enclosure that is designed to restrain the dog or (2) to permit a “dangerous dog” to go beyond the owner’s real property unless the dog is leashed and muzzled or is otherwise securely restrained and muzzled.

The legislature has further required that if the owner of the “dangerous dog” transfers ownership or possession of the dog to another person, the owner shall provide written notice to: (1) the authority that made the determination that the dog was dangerous, stating the name and address of the new owner or possessor of the dog; and (2) the person taking passion or ownership of the “dangerous dog”, specifying the dog’s dangerous behavior and the authority’s determination as a “dangerous dog”.  The failure to make these disclosures is a crime (Class 3 misdemeanor).

Failure to comply with the requirements of the “Dangerous Dog” statutes will subject a dog owner to strict liability for any damages incurred.  In addition to the strict liability for “dangerous dogs”, liability for a dog bite can also arise under circumstances of negligence or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.

What should you do if you have been attacked by a dangerous dog?

First, seek medical attention and call Animal Control in your County or municipality. (Start by calling the police).  Be sure to find out exactly who is the owner of the Dog.  This is important to be sure the dog is properly vaccinated for rabies.

Second, take pictures of your injuries and if possible photograph where the attack took place and any damages to your property or clothing.

Third, keep detailed records of all health care providers who treat you and of all medical costs that you incur.  If your clothing or property is damaged or destroyed be sure to photograph and keep all receipts.

Finally, if you have incurred medical expenses, scarring, pain & suffering, mental anguish or other damages from being attacked by a vicious or dangerous dog, consult a lawyer with experience in handling these types of personal injury cases.   The lawyers at Weaver Bennett & Bland have the experience to help you evaluate whether or not this is a case that should be pursued in the Courts if necessary and to otherwise assist you in negotiating fair compensation on the facts of your case. Contact us today to learn more about or practice areas or to schedule an appointment for a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte.