Dog bite laws

Dog bite

The regulations governing a dog owner’s responsibility for dog bites vary from state to state. Certain cities adhere to common laws. In the form of dog bite statutes some cities have adopted laws such as the dog-bite laws in North Carolina. 

The material below provides a summary of state dog bite laws.

Dog bite laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the one-bite rule, the restricted dog bite statutes, carelessness, negligence per se, scienter, and intentional tort theories all allow dog bite victims to get compensation. 

The dog-bite laws in North Carolina only apply to dogs older than six months that are out on the streets at night, have killed or wounded someone in the past, or have been previously listed as dangerous or possibly dangerous. 

Some victims may find receiving compensation in North Carolina challenging since it is a contributory negligence state. 

Statutory obligation

If a dog owner in North Carolina intentionally, knowingly, and willfully violates the state’s ban on dogs running at large, as per Section 67-12 of the North Carolina General Statutes, he will be held strictly liable for any injuries caused by the dog to a person or to “chattels” (the legal term for “property”). 


Under the dog-bite laws in North Carolina, a victim may seek compensation on the usual basis of negligence. Note that negligence is the absence of ordinary care or the level of care that a reasonably wise and careful person would practice in the same situation. 

Negligence in General

The majority of counties have local laws in place to safeguard the community from harmful dogs.

State and municipal laws that might be relevant to your situation include the following:

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 130A-200 (2007)

Furthermore, a municipal health director has the authority to designate an animal as dangerous and a threat to the public’s health if it has attacked someone and caused physical harm without being taunted, molested, provoked, beaten, tormented, or subjected to any other abuse. 

One-Bite Rule

Some states, including North Carolina, use the “one bite rule,” a legal theory, to decide who is responsible for dog bite incidents. 

However, if a responsible adult is present, the pet can leave its owner’s property while being leashed and under supervision.

Furthermore, the owner may be held accountable for any damage the dog causes if it has a history of biting or if the owner was aware of the dog’s violent tendencies but neglected to take reasonable precautions to prevent it from happening.

Contributory negligence

The contributory negligence theory, which prevents recovery if a plaintiff is somewhat at fault, is the basis of North Carolina’s negligence statutes. 

Again, the majority of other states adhere to the idea of comparative negligence, which lowers the amount of damages in accordance with the plaintiff’s level of responsibility. 

Practically speaking, the idea of contributory negligence gives insurance companies an advantage over victims of dog bites. 

Dog Bite Compensation

You may be eligible to get financial compensation for the following kinds of losses if you can demonstrate that the dog’s owner is accountable under the dog bite laws in your state:

Medical expenses associated with the bite

  • Lost earnings/lost earning capacity
  • Distress and suffering
  • Emotional angst

However, you must substantiate the amount of harm the dog bite caused you.

Dog bite laws in other cities

Other states have restrictions on a victim who makes use of the dog bite law. For instance, Massachusetts courts have ruled that the victim must show that he was not “teasing, torturing, or abusing” the dog and was not “committing a trespass or other tort.” Rossi v. DelDuca, 344 Mass. 66, 69; Curran v. Burkhart, 310 Mass. 466, 467; Sullivan v. Ward, 304 Mass. 614, 615–616. 

A victim of a severe mauling who cannot recall the details of what happened may suffer great injustice due to this burden.

Laws governing procedure and other matters may limit a victim’s ability to file a claim. The statute of limitations, which gives all claims an expiration date, is the most significant of them. 

Warning: Statute of Limitations However, even child custody may come into play in a dog bite lawsuit. 

The parent who has primary physical and legal custody of a child may file a claim for the child’s injuries sustained due to a dog bite. 

The parent with exclusive custody has the right to have the other parent’s case dismissed if they also file a lawsuit. 400 N.W.2d 387 (MI Ct. of App., 1987); Murphy v. Bergo

Finally, never presume that your state has created any of the “normal” limitations on liability. You must do your homework to see whether a specific defense is legal in your state.


Note that this quick overview looks at the fundamental features of most state dog bite laws, including strict liability principles and the classic elements of negligence. it also looks at dog bite laws in other cities other than North Carolina.

Also, read the following:

Pornography law in North Carolina


Medical Malpractice and Negligence Litigation – Overview

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