North Carolina Dog Bite Law FAQs

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


Although dogs are often considered man’s best friend, the relationship can quickly turn sour in the event of a dog bite that causes personal injury. North Carolina’s dog bite laws and personal injury court cases can be hard for the average citizen to fully comprehend. The following are  answers to some frequently asked questions about dog bite laws in North Carolina.


dog-bite-personal-Injury-lawyer-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-300x225When are Dog Owners Liable?


North Carolina state law follows a doctrine of fault determination for dog bites known as “strict liability.”  This means that dog owners will be held liable for any personal injury another person incurs due to a dog that is considered a “dangerous dog” as defined by state law (as described in the following section). In addition, the plaintiff/injured victim must be able to prove to the court that their injuries were due to the dog’s bite.


What are the Exceptions to a Dog Owner’s Liability?


When a person suffers personal injury from a dog bite in a situation where that person was, at the time of the injury, either trespassing on the owner’s property, attempting to commit a crime, or provoking the dog in some way, that victim has likely forfeited their chances to recover monetary compensation for damages.


Additionally, when a dog is being used by a law enforcement agency to carry out official duties of the officer and department, the owner of that dog (typically the police department) will not be liable for any injuries sustained to dog bite victims. This closely mirrors the previous exception, where owners whose dogs are preventing a crime from occurring may not be liable for injuries caused.


Do I Have Legal Recourse if I am Bit by a Stray Dog?


It can be very challenging for individuals injured by a stray dog to successfully pursue litigation.  Municipalities are typically not legally responsible for stray dogs, and in the absence of a verifiable owner it can be challenging for a plaintiff and their dog bite attorney to determine how to pursue litigation.


However, if a person is bitten by a dog that has escaped from a local shelter or other impounding organization, that organization may be liable for the dog’s behavior. Your legal counsel will need to prove the organization’s negligence in the events that lead to the bite.


What if I am Bitten by a Dog While Performing Work on the Property?


Courts typically consider dog owners to have a certain duty to keep workers on the property reasonably safe from their dog. This includes putting the dog in a secured area and warning any on-premises workers about the presence of a dangerous dog. Failure to do so can be construed as negligence and leave dog owners liable for providing monetary compensation.


Getting Professional Legal Counsel


Knowing how to proceed after being bit by a dog in North Carolina can be challenging and stressful, especially for individuals who are still reeling from the trauma of the attack. For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been helping dog bite victims in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina as they navigate the legal process involved in winning litigation. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today for insight into your personal injury case. 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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