You’ve been attacked by a dog and have suffered injuries. Can you recover the cost of medical treatment from the dog’s owner?

Maybe. Not every dog bite injury gives rise to a claim under North Carolina law. A careful review of the facts must be done. In cases we’ve handled, we have even been successful in making claims against landlords who were aware of the danger on their property.

Factors to be determined include whether or not the dog has been known to show aggressive behavior in the past, a history of prior problems between the animal and other people and the existence of a record with animal control or the police. The dog does not necessarily need to have bitten anyone in the past in order to be considered aggressive. Prior occasions of acting “in a terrorizing manner” with other people qualify.

When there is a history of problems with a particular dog, the owner is on notice of the danger and is obligated to control the animal. According to North Carolina law, it is unlawful and negligent for a dog’s owner to allow a dangerous animal to be kept outside without any type of leash or muzzle restraint.

If you are the victim of a dog attack, you should document the facts and history of the dog’s conduct through witness statement(s) and report your incident to the local police. Of course, get appropriate medical treatment and take photographs of the scene, of the dog and of your injuries. Pictures of your injuries allow people to see how the dog caused harm to your body. Attacks by dogs can result in the victim being severely hurt, permanently disfigured or even killed.

North Carolina statutes do not identify dangerous dog breeds, but many insurance companies do — some of them won’t even allow policies to homeowners or renters who own certain dog breeds. In addition, the owner of a dangerous dog that causes injury can be charged with a misdemeanor and be criminally liable for injuries and property damage that the animal causes.

We can go over your dog bite injury incident with you and let you know if we think you have a strong case.