Everything to Know About North Carolina’s Dog Bite Liability Laws

In The United States dogs rule in terms of the country’s favorite pet. And although dogs in our homes may seem harmless, in some situations with other people, they can be dangerous. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cites data finding that 4.5 million people suffer dog bite injuries nationwide each year—with children accounting for at least half of all dog bite victims. Dog owners have a legal responsibility to take proper precautions to protect people from the inherent risk posed by their animals. Here, our Raleigh personal injury attorneys provide a comprehensive guide to the key things to know about North Carolina’s dog bite liability laws. 

Understanding Dog Bite Liability in North Carolina

A dog bite injury claim in North Carolina can be filed on several different grounds. You may be able to bring a dog bite injury claim under one or more of the following legal standards: 

  • Strict Liability: Also sometimes called statutory liability, North Carolina has a strict liability statute for dog bites. Under G.S. § 67-4.1, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by a dangerous dog. A dog that attacks a person and causes severe harm—without provocation—is defined as a dangerous dog under the statute. 
  • Negligence: You can also file a common law negligence claim against a dog owner in North Carolina. If a dog owner’s failure to take reasonable care contributed to the attack, the dog owner can be held liable on the grounds of negligence. 
  • Third-Party Negligence: A defendant other than a dog owner may also be liable for a dog bite through a third-party negligence claim. For example, an apartment complex that negligently allowed a dangerous dog on the premises may bear liability. 

With multiple standards of liability that could apply to the case, dog bite injury claims in North Carolina are complex. If you or your child was injured by a dog, it is imperative that the incident is carefully investigated by an experienced Raleigh personal injury lawyer. 

Local Regulations Could Impact a Dog Bite Claim

Another key factor that makes dog bite claims complicated is local regulations could have an impact on liability. For example, Raleigh,  NC has a local leash law in place. Except for in designated areas (dog parks) dogs should be leashed when in public. If an unleashed dog bites a person in Raleigh, the dog owner is generally legally responsible. 

Dog Bite Injury Claims are Subject to a Three-Year Statute of Limitations

You must bring any legal action for a dog bite injury before the North Carolina statute of limitations runs out. In North Carolina, most personal injury claims—including dog bite injury claims—are regulated by a three-year statute of limitations. If a dog bite injury lawsuit is not filed within three years, the case can be dismissed on statutory grounds. 

North Carolina is a Contributory Negligence State (What it Means for Dog Bite Claims) 

North Carolina has some of the harshest laws on plaintiffs in the entire country. The state is one of the few remaining U.S. jurisdictions that still have contributory negligence standards on the books. Under the legal doctrine of contributory negligence, a victim can be denied compensation if they are partially at fault for their own injuries. The standard may be an issue in dog bite injury cases. It is very difficult to recover compensation through a dog bite claim in North Carolina if you were trespassing or if you provoked the attack. 

Injured Dog Bite Victims have the Right to Pursue Financial Compensation 

A dog bite can cause very serious injuries. It is imperative that victims are granted the full and proper financial compensation that they deserve. North Carolina law allows dog bite victims to seek financial relief for economic and intangible damages. You may be entitled to recover financial compensation for: 

  • Emergency room care
  • Skin grafts and other surgical procedures 
  • Medical expenses, including physical therapy 
  • Mental health counseling
  • Loss of current and future wages 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement or disability
  • Wrongful death of a family member 

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Dog Bite Injury Attorney in Raleigh, NC 

At Green Mistretta Law, PLLC, our North Carolina personal injury lawyers have the professional skills and legal expertise to handle all types of dog bite injury claims. If you or your child were injured by a dangerous dog, we can help. Call us now or contact us online to set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation. With a law office in Wake Forest, we handle dog bite injury claims in Raleigh, Wake County, Durham County, and throughout the entire region.