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Columbia Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > General > If A Dog Attacked Me, Do I Automatically Get a Settlement?

If A Dog Attacked Me, Do I Automatically Get a Settlement?


Many people mistakenly believe that South Carolina’s victim-friendly dog bite laws guarantee a settlement in these cases. Alas, that’s not the case. Insurance companies often bicker about the amount of damages. For example, if victims don’t immediately see doctors, insurance company lawyers often later argue that their injuries are exaggerated. Liability (legal responsibility) disputes are even more frequent, even in strict liability cases. More on that below.

Dog bite settlements topped $1 billion in 2022. So, insurance companies are willing to pay big money to resolve strong cases. However, insurance company lawyers are very thorough. They care nothing about what’s right or fair. Instead, they’re willing to do almost anything to reduce or deny compensation to victims. An equally thorough Columbia dog bite lawyer works hard to ensure maximum compensation for your serious injuries.

Assumption of the Risk

Many pet owners believe a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign gives them dog bite liability immunity. That’s not the case. Instead, such warning signs only make the assumption of the risk defense easier to prove in court.

In South Carolina, this common premises liability (dog bite, swimming pool drowning, and fall) defense has two basic elements:

  • Voluntary assumption of
  • A known risk.

The seat belt defense, an offshoot of the assumption of the risk defense, sometimes applies in a few car crash cases. The principle is the same. According to this defense, victims who don’t buckle up are legally responsible for their own injuries.

Initially, insurance company lawyers must establish the basic elements of the assumption of the risk defense, usually during a pretrial hearing. In addition to proving the owner displayed a sign, lawyers must also prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant.

These elements are difficult to prove, especially if the victim was a young child. Young children often can’t read two-syllable words, like beware, very well. Even if they can read them, they often don’t fully understand their meaning.

If a judge concludes the defense might apply, and insurance company lawyers properly present it to jurors, the jurors must divide responsibility on a percentage basis. South Carolina is a modified comparative fault state. If the tortfeasor (negligent actor) was at least 51 percent responsible for the injury, the victim receives a proportionate share of damages.


This defense, which applies in both negligence and strict liability claims, also involves a two-step legal process.

First, insurance company lawyers must convince a judge that the victim provoked the animal. In this context, provocation is generally an intentional and physical act. People cannot move fast or act scared and therefore unintentionally provoke dogs. Furthermore, again in this context, “provoking” an animal is more like “torturing” an animal. Words alone usually aren’t provocative.

If the judge rules the defense is admissible, jurors must divide responsibility between the pirates, as outlined above.

Connect With a Savvy 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. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.


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Dog Bites

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.

24/7 Availability

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