Liability and Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries in North Carolina

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


A victim of a dog bite can sustain physical injuries and financial losses associated with the injury. How do victims of dog bites obtain compensation for their losses and damages in North Carolina?


box-of-puppies-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Injury-Lawyer-300x200Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury in North Carolina

Like some other states, North Carolina has the “One Bite Rule” when it comes to holding a dog owner liable for injuries inflicted by his or her dog. As its name implies, the One Bite Rule means that the owner of the dog that injured someone may not be held liable for the bite if the dog had no previous bites or violent behavior in the past.

However, in some dog bite cases, the owner of a dog that bites someone can be held liable under the strict liability principle. It is advised to consult with a dog bite attorney to determine whether your incident falls under the One Bite Rule or the strict liability principle in North Carolina.


One Bite Rule and Negligence

Since North Carolina has the One Bite Rule, a dog bite victim is required to show proof that the dog’s owner (a) was aware or should have been aware of their pet’s dangerousness and (b) should have taken reasonable steps to restrain the dog. Failure to prove these two elements may bar the victim from recovering damages.

In order to determine whether or not the owner should have known that their dog was dangerous, the victim must show proof of:

  • Previous bites;
  • Violent or threatening behavior in the past;
  • A tendency to attack people;
  • A tendency to attack other dogs or animals;
  • Being trained for fighting; or
  • Having complaints from neighbors.

In addition to the “One Bite Rule,” North Carolina also follows the contributory negligence doctrine, which prevents injured victims from obtaining any compensation if their own negligence contributed to their personal injury.


Dog Bites and Strict Liability in North Carolina

Just because the dog bites someone for the first time or the victim cannot prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known about its dangerous behavior does not necessarily mean that the injured victim cannot recover damages.

In North Carolina, dog owners can also be held “strictly liable” for injuries caused by their dogs, even if the victim cannot demonstrate proof of negligence on the part of the owner. However, the victim is required to establish that:

  • The dog was knowingly, willfully, or intentionally allowed to run at large at night;
  • The dog was six months old or older; and
  • The dog was not accompanied by the owner or the owner’s family member.

Dog owners can also be held liable for injuries caused by their canine if the dog is considered dangerous. In North Carolina, a dog is considered dangerous when it:

  1. Has inflicted serious injuries without being provoked;
  2. Was owned or trained for dog fighting; or
  3. Was previously determined to be “potentially dangerous” by a government entity.

The dog’s owner can be held liable for resulting damages and losses if their dangerous dog injures another individual or damages someone else’s property. In North Carolina, dog owners whose dogs cause injuries that require medical treatment worth $100 or more are charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Speak with our Charlotte dog bite attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss your particular situation. Reach out to Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a 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.






Image Credit



See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:



See Our Related Blog Posts:

Legal Considerations of Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in North Carolina

Pet Friendly Businesses Could Result in More Dog Bites

Contact Information