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Dog Attacks: Understanding Liability and What to Do if You're Bitten

Posted by Clay Hopkins | Sep 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

Dog attacks can be terrifying and life-altering experiences, affecting victims physically, emotionally, and financially. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.5 million Americans experience dog bites annually. Shockingly, a staggering 20% of these incidents demand immediate medical intervention due to the severity of the injuries.

According to a recent news article, an 18-month old child was viciously attacked by a dog in Colleton County, South Carolina. The mother of the child said she took her kids over to a friend's house to hang out. The moms were all watching the neighborhood children play together outside when she went inside to use the restroom for five minutes. When she returned, her 6-year-old child pointed her in the direction of the baby, saying, ‘Mom, they've got him." She sprinted in the direction her 6-year-old daughter was pointing, where she found her toddler in the jaws of three dogs. The child was treated by Collecton County Fire and Rescue on scene and then transported him to the Shawn Jenkins Children's Trauma Center at MUSC.

Liability in Dog Attacks:

In South Carolina, dog owners can be held liable for injuries caused by their pets under certain circumstances. South Carolina operates under a “strict liability” statute when it comes to dog attacks. This means that dog owners are held responsible for injuries inflicted by their dogs, even if the dog has never displayed aggressive behavior before, and the owner had no prior knowledge of their dog's potential to bite.

The key points of the “strict liability” statute in South Carolina regarding dog attacks are as follows:

  1. Location: The law applies to injuries caused by a dog attack that occurs in public places or when the victim is lawfully on private property, including the dog owner's property.
  2. Injury: The dog owner is liable for any injury caused by their dog, including bites and other injuries that occur as a result of the dog's aggressive behavior.
  3. No Prior Knowledge Required: It doesn't matter if the dog has never bitten anyone before or if the owner had no reason to believe that the dog could be dangerous.

What to Do If You're Bitten:

If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog in South Carolina, it's essential to take the following steps:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: The first and most crucial step is to seek medical attention immediately, even if the wound appears minor. Dog bites can lead to serious infections and complications if not treated promptly.
  2. Identify the Dog and Owner: Try to identify the dog and its owner. If possible, obtain the owner's name, address, and contact information. Also, note the dog's breed, size, and any distinguishing features.
  3. Gather Witness Information: If there were witnesses to the attack, try to get their names and contact details as they may be valuable for a potential legal case.
  4. Document the Incident: Take photographs of your injuries, the location of the incident, and any visible signs of negligence on the owner's part, such as lack of restraint or aggressive behavior.
  5. Report the Incident: Contact your local animal control or law enforcement agency to report the dog bite incident.
  6. Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney: Finally, seek legal counsel from a reputable South Carolina-based Personal Injury law firm, like the Hopkins Law Firm. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, protect your rights, and pursue compensation for your injuries.


Dog attacks can be traumatizing and life-changing events. At the Hopkins Law Firm, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll these incidents can have on victims and their families. If you or someone you know has suffered from a dog attack in South Carolina, our team of dedicated attorneys is here to help you navigate the legal process, holding negligent dog owners accountable and fighting for the compensation you deserve. You can call our office at (843) 314-4202 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Remember— you don't have to face this journey alone. 

About the Author

Clay Hopkins

South Carolina Lawyer


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