Dog Attacks

There are few things harder than parting with your best friend. Yet, for many dog owners, this is the exact choice they will have to make when their dog starts to show signs of aggression. A kind puppy, placed in a stressful situation, perhaps with pent-up energy from being home all day, can react aggressively. 

That’s the owner’s side of the story, but what about the victim? For the victim of an aggressive dog, it’s usually an act of kindness – giving attention and affection to a seemingly lonely dog – betrayed with aggression and injury.

Whether you are the dog owner or the victim of an aggressive pet, you may be wondering what to do next. In addition to administering first aid, and making sure that everyone is safe and the dog is kept far away from others in the meantime, you’ll want to understand the law in South Carolina and how it holds owners accountable for their pets’ actions.

Prevention: Know Dog Bite Risk Factors

The key to prevention is understanding which factors increase the risk of your dog biting someone or another animal. Knowing these risks can help you take proactive measures to prevent bites or identify any problem areas that need addressing before they become an issue. Some of the main risk factors include:

  • Genetic Predisposition – Certain breeds have stronger jaws and temperaments that position them as higher bite risk than other breeds.
  • Poor Socialization – Dogs who lack positive interaction with their environment may respond aggressively when they feel uncomfortable or scared in unfamiliar circumstances.
  • Inadequate Training & Exercise – Behavioral problems such as excessive barking or lunging can result from boredom and stress due to insufficient attention, mental stimulation and physical exercise.
  • Stressful Environments – Anxiety-producing situations such as being surrounded by strange people or being separated from its owner can cause a misguided defensive reaction in a dog.

Remember that just because a dog might be predisposed to aggression, such as a breed with a bad reputation, that doesn’t mean a dog will bite. Many pitbulls and chows are cuddly, affectionate companions. And on the other hand, seemingly harmless lap dogs may have aggressive tendencies due to poor socialization or training. Because dog aggression is so unpredictable, it is best to treat all unknown dogs with caution until you have a chance to speak to their owner.

First Aid Treatment for Dog Bites

If you do end up suffering from a dog bite, be sure to follow these first aid steps:

  • Wash the wound under cool running water for about 5 to 10 minutes with mild soap, gently pat dry with a clean cloth, then apply pressure if there is active bleeding;
    • Apply antibiotics ointment, cover the wound if possible with a bandage, and seek medical help immediately if needed. 

Additionally, it’s important to note that depending on the severity of the bite damage and/or the bite victim’s health, tetanus vaccinations or rabies prophylaxis might be recommended by doctors as well.

Medical Treatment for Dog Bites

Clean & Bandage Wound Properly

It’s imperative that you clean your wound properly with soap and water or an antiseptic solution before applying a bandage. If one isn’t available, you should at least apply pressure to stop any bleeding from occurring. When done, cover the area with a sterile dressing or bandage and monitor it for any signs of infection.

Visit a Doctor Immediately

One of the first steps in getting proper medical treatment for a dog bite is to visit your doctor immediately after the incident has occurred. Your physician will be able to evaluate the severity of your wound and recommend a course of treatment accordingly. When it comes to legal claims, a paperwork trail is vital – medical records from your treatment, dated as soon as possible after the incident, are an important part of your case.

Monitor Symptoms Carefully

Once your wound is closed, watch for any possible signs of infection such as inflammation or redness at or around the wound site, pain when moving near the area, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the vicinity of the wound or unusual red streaks spreading away from the original bite site. Infection occurs when bacteria enters through open sores on injured skin and spreads throughout the body, so consult your doctor if you notice any increased signs of infection or if your wound is not healing.

Take Antibiotics and Vaccinations as Prescribed

If your doctor prescribes antibiotics as part of your treatment plan following a dog bite incident then make sure that you take them exactly as instructed by your doctor – even if it means having to take a few rounds of antibiotics. Continue taking medications until you’ve completed the course prescribed by your doctor – even if it looks like your wounds have healed, there may still be bacteria in your system. Your doctor may also wish for you to get vaccinated against diseases more common in animals, such as rabies.

Who is liable for a dog bite and when should legal action be taken?

While the laws in South Carolina are typically on the victim’s side, you should familiarize yourself with the law and consult with an attorney to ensure that you can obtain the compensation you deserve.

Typically, the owner of a dog is responsible for damages caused by the dog in South Carolina, even if the occurrence happens on private property, to someone who was invited over or who is there with permission, such as a customer or a delivery driver. Owners are liable when a dog escapes their property as well.

It is not necessary for the victim to have been bitten in order to establish a legal case. A dog might pounce on someone and break their bones. Scratches from dogs can result in damage and illnesses as well. 

In order for a dog owner to be held responsible, the wounded victim need only show that the animal attacked or bit them. South Carolina has a strict liability law, which means the owner does not have to be aware that the dog is harmful – there is no “one bite” rule that requires a dog to have bitten someone before the owner may be held responsible for subsequent injuries.

South Carolina has a strict time limit of three years from the date of the harm to bring your lawsuit. However, do not wait until the last minute – lawsuits take time to prepare and file. 

Compensation for pain and suffering as well as out of pocket expenses such as medical bills or lost wages are available to help get you past your traumatic experience with a dog attack. Our firm has successfully obtained compensation for dog bite victims. 

If you have been injured in a dog attack, we offer a free consultation in injury cases and are ready to help – contact us today.