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What is South Carolina's Dog Bite Law?

What is South Carolina's Dog Bite Law?

Most people would agree that dogs can be wonderful pets. They can be great companions and they can protect your homes and properties at the same time. But while dogs can be the best pets, we can’t forget that they are still animals with animal instincts. Unfortunately, a dangerous dog can do a lot of damage. Such a dog can cause permanent scarring and disfigurement, and a dog attack can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and even death.

In many situations, dogs become dangerous because of people. This can happen when they are not properly socialized, they are abused, they are neglected or all of the above. Sometimes, a well-meaning person will adopt a dog from a shelter and they won’t know the dog’s past. The dog will have a history of abuse or the dog’s previous owners failed to socialize the dog and in effect, the dog is like a ticking time bomb. Other times, a dog may have been raised by very loving owners, but the dog still had the propensity to bite.

South Carolina’s Law on Dog Bites

South Carolina’s law on dog bites can be found under Section 47-3-110 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Under the state’s dog bite laws, a dog owner can be held liable for any injuries their dog causes if:

  • The person was bitten by a dog while they were in a public place or lawfully on private grounds, including the dog owner’s property;
  • The person bitten was lawfully on property where they were invited, or their presence was express or implied by the owner or someone renting or leasing the property; and
  • The person bitten didn’t do anything to provoke the dog.

South Carolina is a Strict Liability Dog Bite State

South Carolina is a strict liability dog bite state. What does this mean? It means that dog owners are responsible when their dog bites or attacks someone, even if the owner had no idea that the dog was capable of attacking or biting a person. While many states have similar “strict liability” rules, other states have “one bite rules” that offer more protections for dog owners.

In “one bite” states, for example, the owner is often required to have knowledge that the dog could bite, or the owner must have been negligent in some way to cause the bite. One such example would be a dog owner who let their dog roam around the neighborhood freely and the dog bit someone. In this example, the owner was clearly negligent.

If you were bitten by a dog, the dog owner’s main defenses would be that you trespassed on their property or you somehow provoked the dog. If you didn’t do either, then the dog’s owner may be strictly liable for your injuries.

To file a dog bite claim, contact our office by calling (803)932-6117.


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