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Dog Bite Laws in South Carolina: Your Rights as a Victim

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Dog Bite Laws in South Carolina: Your Rights as a Victim

Nihar Patel | The Carolina Law Group

Nihar Patel | The Carolina Law Group

If you’re bitten by a dog in South Carolina, what are your rights as a victim?

The good news is that South Carolina’s dog bite laws generally favor victims. South Carolina does not have a so-called “one-bite” rule, like many other states do, that essentially gives a dog and its owner a “pass” on the first bite. Instead, South Carolina follows a strict liability standard where the dog’s owner is responsible for the dog’s actions even if the dog had never previously exhibited aggressive behavior.

Here’s what South Carolina law says about victims’ rights after a dog bite, plus the circumstances in which you are not protected under the law.

(Note: The following is about dog bites that occur outside of work. If you were injured by a dog bite or attack while in the course of work, you will likely file a workers’ comp claim instead. Find out how in our blog How to File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in South Carolina.)

Dog Bite Victims’ Rights Under South Carolina Law

According to South Carolina code Section 47-3-110, if a person is “bitten or otherwise attacked” by a dog while in public or while legally on private property, then “the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked.”

The law also explicitly protects dog bite victims who were carrying out a duty imposed by law at the time of the attack, such as delivering the mail.

When Dog Bite Victims Are NOT Legally Protected Under South Carolina Law

While South Carolina’s dog bite laws generally favor victims, there are some situations where they are not protected. If the dog bite victim was:

  • Bitten or attacked while on private property unlawfully,
  • Bitten or attacked after provoking or harassing the dog, and that provocation was the proximate cause of the attack, and/or
  • Bitten or attacked by a dog in a law enforcement capacity during the course of duty

then the dog owner or handler is not liable under the law for injuries sustained in the attack.

Next Step: A Personal Injury Claim

If you were injured by a dog in South Carolina and have suffered damages as a result, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner (or against the “person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping”). A personal injury claim can help you get the compensation you need to help with medical bills and more.

Unlike in many other states, in South Carolina you do not need to prove that the dog had a pattern of aggressive behavior or had bitten or attacked anyone in the past. Instead, you need show that:

  • You were legally allowed to be in the location when the attack occurred (i.e., you were not trespassing),
  • You did not provoke the attack,
  • The dog injured you in the attack, and
  • You suffered due to those injuries.

Speak with a personal injury attorney with experience handling dog bite cases to help you with your dog bite case.

Call the Dog Bite Lawyers at The Carolina Law Group

Here at The Carolina Law Group, we have the experience to help you build a strong case after suffering injuries in a dog attack so you can get the compensation you need to heal. You generally have three years to bring a personal injury claim for a dog bite in South Carolina, so don’t wait too long or you may be barred from recovering.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us at one of the numbers below to schedule your free consultation today.

The Carolina Law Group has four offices in South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.312.4444) & West Columbia (principal office; call 803.881.1110).

Call us at one of our four offices or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys. Our business hours are Monday – Thursday 8:30am – 5:30pm & Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm. Weekend and evening hours by appointment only. Our Greenville, SC law firm offers Spanish, Hindi, and Gujarati language translation services for your convenience.


Mr. Patel worked for the Greenville County Public Defender’s Office in 2005 after graduating from law school. While there, Mr. Patel handled thousands of cases ranging from low-level misdemeanors to high-profile murders. In March 2011, Mr. Patel and Mr. Desai formed The Carolina Law Group. Mr. Patel practices in the areas of criminal defense, family law, and personal injury. In 2011, Mr. Patel was elected as the President of the Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GACDL).

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