Myrtle Beach Dog Bites Lawyer
Most people think of dogs as playful pets, so it usually comes as a surprise when a person is bitten by a dog. Depending on a dog’s breed and history it can be particularly aggressive. In that case, a bit may not only draw blood but also cause serious injuries.
Dog bites are often complicated personal injury cases for many people because the dog owners are usually friends, family members, or neighbors with whom the victims have had healthy relationships. There can often be a certain amount of concern on the victim’s part that filing an injury claim for their dog bite will result in financial hardship for these acquaintances.
If you or your loved one sustained serious injuries because of a dog attack in the Myrtle Beach area, do not wait to retain legal counsel. Insurance companies routinely look to resolve these cases for the least amount possible, and a lawyer will fight to make sure that you get everything you need and deserve. The Law Office of William J. Luse represents clients in Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Socastee, Conway, Little River, North Myrtle Beach, and other parts of Horry County, Georgetown County, and Marion County. Call (843) 839-4795 or fill out an online contact form to have a Myrtle Beach dog bites attorney review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a consultation.
Why Do I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?
The primary issue for any dog bite victim will be dealing with the dog owner’s insurance company. The insurer may attempt to claim that a victim did something to antagonize the dog, thus prompting its reaction.
In other cases, an insurance company may offer a lump-sum settlement to resolve the case. A person will also usually sign a release of liability, and most people who accept these settlements quickly realize that they are not enough to cover all of the future medical expenses that are involved.
A lawyer will be able to investigate your dog bite, collect evidence relating to the event, and then negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf. The attorney will have a far better understanding of how much your case is actually worth and also have prior experience dealing with insurers to resolve these issues.
Why Choose the Law Office of William J. Luse?
William J. Luse has more than a dozen years of legal experience and is admitted to state courts all over South Carolina as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the South Carolina Association for Justice.
When you work with the Law Office of William J. Luse, you will know that somebody truly cares about your case and wants to help you in your recovery. Our firm believes that we must get to know our clients very closely in order to help jurors fully understand the ways that your injuries have affected your life.
We will work to help you recover every single dollar of compensation you are entitled to. If the Law Office of William J. Luse cannot get an insurance company to provide a reasonable settlement, we will file a lawsuit to try your case in court.
You also do not need to worry about whether you can afford a lawyer. The Law Office of William J. Luse represents clients on a contingency fee basis, so you only pay when you obtain a financial award.
Dog Bite Cases We Handle
Under South Carolina Code § 47-3-110(A), a dog owner or person having a dog in their care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog in a public place or lawfully on private property.
South Carolina Code § 47-3-110(B), however, provides that a dog owner is not liable if the person who was attacked provoked or harassed the dog, or the dog was working in a law enforcement capacity and was properly trained and certified, and the attack or bite did not occur on a third party bystander. In most cases, the insurance company will defend a dog owner by either claiming that the victim provoked the dog or the victim was trespassing.
The statute of limitations for a dog bite claim under South Carolina Code § 15-3-530 is three years. Some of the kinds of injuries dog bite victims may sustain can include, but are not limited to:
- Neck injuries
- Eye injuries
- Facial injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, more than half of the 4.7 million annual dog bite victims are children. Dog bites can have very long-lasting psychological consequences for younger victims in addition to their physical injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites in South Carolina
Dog bite claims are not as well-known as car accident or medical malpractice claims, so many potential claimants can feel overwhelmed or confused about what they are getting themselves into. To set your mind at ease, we have provided the answers to a few questions about dog bite cases that we hear most often at our office.
What is the one bite rule?
The one bite rule refers to laws in some states that allow dog owners to avoid liability when their dogs had no prior histories of aggressive actions. South Carolina is a strict liability state, so a dog owner is always liable for a dog bite unless the victim instigated the attack. In other words, a dog owner cannot use lack of knowledge about a dog’s viciousness to escape liability.
What should I do if I was bitten by a dog?
You should always seek medical care for a dog bite, even if you do not think you were hurt. Medical staff can help prevent infections and having a medical record created immediately after your incident can also be helpful for later claims. Take pictures of any wounds before they heal. When a dog owner is not a person you know particularly well, get their name and phone number. If you think they could be dishonest about their identity, do not be afraid to ask for a driver’s license. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
What happens if I am bitten by a stray dog?
You should still follow all of the above steps relating to your own personal care, but you obviously will not be able to get dog owner information. The only legal claim that you might be able to file against a stray dog is if the owner was a local pound, as it may be liable if the dog escaped from the pound’s custody. In some cases, a person may know that a stray dog had a previous owner in the area who stopped caring for the animal, and it may be possible to pursue a claim against that person in limited cases.
Dog Bite Statistics
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported in its 2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report that 28,079 people underwent reconstructive procedures related to dog bite repair. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated in 1997 that annual monetary losses for dog bite victims could be as much as $2 billion.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm reported that homeowners insurance companies paid more than $686 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2017. According to the III, the average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide in 2017 was $37,051, a 90 percent increase from 2003 that the III attributed to higher medical costs and larger settlements, judgments, and jury awards.
Researchers with the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that an estimated 4,521,300 people were bitten by dogs each year between 2001 and 2003. Another 756,701 persons who suffered bites required medical attention, according to a separate CDC study.
A November 2010 statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) found that there were 316,200 emergency department (ED) visits and 9,500 hospital stays related to dog bites in 2008, averaging 866 ED visits and 26 hospitalizations a day. The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, or about 50 percent more than the cost of the average stay for other injuries, according to HCUP.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) reported that 6,755 USPS employees were bitten by dogs in 2016. A 2018 report issued by DogsBite.org found that more than 35 dog breeds contributed to 433 deaths between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2017.
Contact a Myrtle Beach Dog Bites Attorney Today
Did you or your loved one suffer severe injuries after being bitten by a dog in Myrtle Beach? Make sure that you are not trying to handle your case on your own. The Law Office of William J. Luse is committed to helping its clients recover all of the compensation they need for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You can have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (843) 839-4795 or contact us online to set up a consultation.