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Columbia Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > General > Dog Bite Defenses In South Carolina

Dog Bite Defenses In South Carolina


Since 2012, the average dog bite injury settlement has increased almost 40 percent. Physical wound treatment costs have increased significantly over the past decade. That’s especially true since many animal attack victims need extensive and expensive treatment at specialized regional trauma centers. Additionally, doctors better understand the nature of emotional dog bite injuries, so these victims have a better chance to fully recover.

To obtain the compensation these victims need to pay these large medical bills, a Columbia dog bite attorney has several legal options. South Carolina has a strict liability law that holds owners responsible for damages as a matter of law. Other options include scienter (knowledge), or the one-bite rule. Under this rule, owners are responsible for damages if they knew the animal was potentially dangerous. Other options include ordinary negligence (lack of ordinary care) and negligence per se (violation of an animal restraint or similar law).

A bare bones case is a good start, but it’s only a good start. Minimal effort usually produces minimal results. To obtain maximum compensation, a Columbia personal injury attorney must blunt some common insurance company defenses, which we examine below. This maximum compensation includes not only money for medical bills and other economic losses, but also compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Assumption of the Risk

Many dog owners believe they can put up a “Beware of Dog” sign and own a dangerous animal without worrying about the consequences to victims. But a sign is only the beginning of the assumption of the risk defense in South Carolina.

First, an insurance company lawyer must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand the sign. Owners often don’t display warning signs in prominent places. Additionally, if the victim was very young or had limited English skills, it’s difficult to establish the second two elements.

Next, an insurance company lawyer must prove the victim’s failure to heed the sign, as opposed to the dog’s behavior or the owner’s negligence, substantially caused injury. In the Palmetto State, owners are responsible for a proportionate share of damages if they were at least 51 percent responsible for an injury.


Generally, when we think of a child provoking another child, we think of teasing and name-calling. Such actions are not provocation in the dog bite context. Instead, an insurance company lawyer must basically prove the victim physically tortured the dog so badly that it had to fight to defend itself.

Legal provocation is usually an absolute defense in strict liability claims. In these situations, owners are completely off the hook if victims provoke dogs.

Provocation is usually a partial defense in scienter or negligence cases. Once again, the owner is usually responsible for a proportionate share of damages if the animal attack, as opposed to physical provocation, was at least 51 percent responsible for the victim’s injury.

Contact a Dedicated Richland County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.


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If you need legal help with a dog bite injury, reach out to a South Carolina dog bite lawyer at the Marc Brown Law Firm.

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Marc Brown

Marc Brown Law Firm

Meet Attorney Marc Brown

Marc Brown is an experienced personal injury and civil rights attorney serving clients throughout South Carolina and Georgia. Marc is motivated by the challenge of helping his clients solve their complex legal issues, and most importantly, he obtains favorable results. He is a caring and conscientious attorney who brings the experience and resources of a larger firm to his smaller, more personalized practices in Sumter and Columbia, SC.

A Personable & Dedicated South Carolina Attorney

As someone who has always had a keen sense of right and wrong and a desire to achieve excellence and fairness in all things, pursuing law was a natural career choice. After graduating with honors from the prestigious Emory University School of Law, Marc went on to become a dedicated litigator who focuses on personal injury, workers’ compensation, and criminal defense cases.

Why Choose Us?

Choosing an attorney is a very important decision, but it can be difficult. When you choose the Marc Brown Law Firm, we do everything we can to keep you informed, put your needs first, and to make sure justice is served. Here are just a few reasons to choose us:

The Right Experience

Attorney Marc Brown has experience that matters. Prior to opening this law firm, Marc spent nearly a half a decade defending big insurance companies and large corporations in personal injury and commercial litigation matters across the United States. Marc knows exactly how insurance companies and corporations evaluate claims and what they look at when deciding to increase the amount they are willing to pay. He thinks outside the box to find additional or hidden opportunities for favorable results.

We’ll Come To You

After being injured in a serious accident, you need to focus on getting better. Serious accidents can be hard on an individual, physically and emotionally. The Marc Brown Law Firm is dedicated to fight for you while you recover. If you are unable to travel to our office for any reason, we will personally visit you! Just give us a call to talk whenever you may be in need of assistance. We’re here to help.

Clients First

At the Marc Brown Law Firm, we choose to put our clients first. Our clients are more than just a case number. We think of each of our clients as extended members of the family. We make sure to inform our clients of all their legal options and provide timely updates throughout the life their case.

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We are available around the clock for our clients. If at any point we are unavailable, we promise to promptly respond to all messages within hours.


We work hard so that our clients receive the justice they deserve! When necessary, Attorney Marc Brown retains investigators, engineers, and other experts to help prove your case. Insurance companies are big, but Marc is experienced and resourceful. We fight for each of our clients so that you can receive the maximum compensation available to you.

No Fees Unless We Win

We work on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no upfront cost to clients. You only pay lawyer fees when we win your case. This also means that your attorney is only paid a percentage of what is recovered for you. The Marc Brown Law Firm has a vested interest in ensuring that each of our clients receive the maximum recovery available to them. We are determined to fight tirelessly to recover for you.

Marc Brown and The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 award