Changes to South Carolina's Dog Bite Law of Strict Liability

Posted on Oct 29, 2013

Just a couple a months ago, South Carolina passed a new law giving police K-9 units more security in the courtroom. Attorneys who handle dog bite cases in Lexington recognize the importance of this law, even though it grants the police greater immunity.

Until June 12, 2013, South Carolina’s strict liability statute for dog bites meant that criminal suspects could receive compensation if a police dog bit them as they fled. This is because the law had previously made exceptions only if the person bitten was a trespasser or had provoked the canine into attacking.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin pointed out the need for a change in the law – a change that would allow K-9s to do their job, and prevent police departments from being sued by fleeing criminals.

Sen. Martin tweaked this law, adding an exception for certified K-9 units that are on the job, and acting in accordance with their training. The canine and its handler are not permitted to use unwarranted force, and must obey the rules, however.  Whether a K-9 uses appropriate force is a question for a jury.

South Carolina is among thirty-six states that hold owners strictly liable for dog bites. This means that it doesn’t matter whether the owner was negligent or not.

Dog bites in Lexington and other parts of South Carolina are common. It is important that victims of physical or psychological harm are properly compensated, but a limited exception for K-9s is an important – and necessary – change in the law.

We want to ensure your rights are protected, and the law is upheld. If any dog other than a police K-9 caused you or a loved one injury, consider contacting a lawyer so that you will know all your legal options. As a Lexington, SC attorney who helps people who have been injured as a result of dog bites, I am here to help. Call me today at (803) 790-2000.