I own an English Bulldog named Rex that I love like a son. And like any good father, I discipline Rex. I teach him right from wrong, and that actions have consequences. Rex is also rewarded for good behavior. However, the law in South Carolina basically holds that no matter how much training, supervision, and care I show my dog, if he ever bites someone, I am liable. In other words, the standard is "strict liability" rather than negligence.
Strict Liability vs Negligence
For instance, you could be walking your dog out of a training session at Petco when she snips at a pedestrian, causing the pedestrian to fall off the sidewalk and break her wrist. Even though you had your dog on a leash, and despite the fact that you had done everything possible to train your pet, you would unfortunately be liable for the pedestrian's injury. This example – not my best – hopefully illustrates the difference between strict liability and negligence.
You Are Ultimately Responsible For Injuries Caused By Your Pets
Our courts follow what is known as the “California Rule,” which in essence states that even if you were not negligent, you could still be held responsible for injuries caused by your pet. The state legislature has likewise adopted a law that reinforces the notion of holding a dog owner strictly liable except in cases of trespass and provocation.
South Carolina dog bite law may seem harsh, but it was never intended to punish dog owners. Rather, the law’s intent is to protect our communities, and to ensure that the financial burden of an accident does not fall solely on the shoulders of an innocent victim. Our law is not perfect, but as a dog owner and attorney, I accept my responsibilities.
Contact a Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you have questions about a dog bite case, I encourage you to consult with a lawyer rather than relying on what insurance companies are telling you. To set up a free consultation with me, call my Columbia, SC office today at 803-790-2800.