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Columbia Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > General > Legal Options In Dog Bite Claims In South Carolina

Legal Options In Dog Bite Claims In South Carolina


As more legal options become available, over the last decade, the total insurance company payout for dog bite settlements has increased almost 50 percent. As outlined below, South Carolina law is especially complex when it comes to legal options in dog bite claims. Lawmakers have tried to find a middle ground between pet owners, who favor weak dog bite laws, and victims, who favor strong laws.

These attacks cause significant physical and emotional injuries which, in many cases, are permanent. Therefore, substantial compensation is available, if a victim partners with the right Columbia dog bite lawyer. Only an attorney with the right combination of experience, dedication, and accessibility can obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries.

Strict Liability

The Palmetto State has one of the broadest strict liability laws in the country. In fact, it’s so broad it often turns off pet owner jurors. As mentioned, these individuals often see broad dog bite laws as dog ownership penalties. That’s especially true if the owner rescued a large-breed dog or an animal with a violent past.

So, in some cases, a Columbia personal injury attorney may use a negligence theory, even if strict liability is available. More on that below.

As for this law, the most recent version of Section 47-3-110 of the South Carolina Statutes states that “the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked,” if that attack occurred in a public place or the victim had the owner’s express or implied permission to be in a private place.

Provocation is the only defense in a strict liability claim. To establish this defense, an insurance company lawyer must prove the victim intentionally and physically provoked the animal. People cannot “accidentally” provoke animals in this context. Furthermore, aggressive teasing usually isn’t enough to provoke a dog, at least in this context.


Even pet owner jurors are willing to hold negligent owners responsible for damages. They often view these owners as irresponsible. In a South Carolina dog bite claim, three possible negligence claims are available, as follows:

  • Ordinary Negligence: Basically, ordinary negligence is a lack of care which, in this context, approaches recklessness. For example, an owner may be negligent if s/he allows a dog whom s/he knows has an aggressive streak to play near a small child.
  • Scienter: This Latin word means “knowledge.” Sceinter and ordinary negligence claims are similar, except that scienter claims usually involve pre-bite aggressive behavior, like vicious growling and sudden lunging.
  • Negligence Per Se: Most localities have very strict fence laws, leash laws, and other animal restraint laws. If an owner violates such an ordnance, and that violation causes injury, the owner could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Third-party liability is possible in negligence cases. For example, landlords are financially responsible for animal attack injuries that occur in common areas, if the owner knew the dog was vicious and failed to take protective measures.

The provocation defense is available in negligence claims. So is the assumption of the risk defense. If the owner posted a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign, the defense applies if the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what that sign meant. These elements are often difficult to prove in court, especially if the victim was very young or had limited English proficiency.

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. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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