Are Dogs Really Man’s Best Friend?

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does the “one-bite rule” mean in NC dog bite cases?”


Dogs have always been called “man’s best friend,” thanks to their loyalty, usefulness and kindness toward their owners. However, if they are not treated properly they can develop aggressive behaviors that may lead to serious injuries or death. Each year in the United States alone, there are more than 4 million incidents involving dog bites.


bulldog-puppy-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Dog-bite-attorney-300x199Dog Bite Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the laws regarding dog bites are relatively straightforward. This is thanks to the different conditions that apply to them, as well as the introduction of the “one-bite rule.” For example, in most situations, the owner must ensure that safety around the dog is proportional to the aggression of the dog.

If there is a case in which the dog has not previously shown any hostility towards people, the dog may not need to be observed so closely. On the other hand, if he has shown aggressive behavior, the owner should be more cautious with the dog.

Some examples of aggressive behavior in dogs include:

  • Snarling or growling at a person at a location that is not the owner’s property.
  • Seriously injuring another animal on the owner’s premises.
  • Killing another animal on the owner’s property.
  • Biting someone and causing major injuries (that require plastic surgery or hospitalization).

If a dog displays any of these behaviors, it may indicate that it is an aggressive dog.


What is the “One-Bite Rule”?

Dog owners in North Carolina are legally accountable for their dogs’ behavior in specific instances. Even though the dog did not bite someone, if the person was hurt while fleeing the dog, they may be entitled to compensation. A dog owner is only accountable for a bite if the dog has been designated dangerous, according to the one-bite rule theory. In brief, this means that in most cases the owner is not to blame for the animal’s first assault.

There are a few exceptions to this law. For example, if a dog is at least six months old and the owner permits it to run free, the owner may be held accountable if the dog does injure someone else. An animal is also considered problematic if it cannot be caught without first putting in a lot of effort. Furthermore, the owner of a dog that has been deemed potentially dangerous is not entitled to bite protection. And finally, a dog might be labeled as potentially dangerous if it exhibits any signs of aggressive behavior.


How to Avoid Getting Bitten by a Dog

When discussing how to handle a dog, we must be mindful of our body language. What seems friendly to a human can be interpreted very differently from a dog. Here are some ways to avoid an attack from a dog:

  • Keep a safe distance from a new or strange animal.
  • Avoid running away from a dog, panicking, or making loud sounds.
  • Stay still if an unfamiliar dog approaches you. Do not scream or flee. Direct eye contact with the dog should be avoided.
  • Do not interrupt a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for its puppies.
  • Allow a dog to sniff you before approaching him to pat him, even if the owner says it is safe to do so.

In addition to this, it is also important to follow some steps if you find yourself on the street and have an encounter with a stray dog. Local animal control should be notified about stray dogs or dogs that are acting strangely. If a dog knocks you over, curl up into a ball and remain still. Make sure your hands and arms are covering your ears and neck. Maintain a calm demeanor and avoid eye contact.


Have You Been Attacked or Bitten by a Dog?

Being attacked by a dog can be traumatizing, and the injuries can be both mental and physical. If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog, it is important to speak to our team of personal injury attorneys here at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We can help you better understand your rights so you can get the much-needed financial compensation you deserve to help you recover from your injuries. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video, phone or in-person consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.





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