July 5, 2001 - Court Gives Edge To Victims of Bites
Since 1990, there have been eight deaths related to dog bites in North Carolina. As a result, a recent ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that certain breeds of dogs have the "propensity" to bite.
"This is one of the more significant rulings in the realm of negligence law where people are liable to others," said Mike Dayton of N.C. Lawyers Weekly. "It's a significant shift in the law, and we don't see many cases like this. You can, through expert testimony, show that this breed is likely to bite. You don't have to wait for it to bite the first time."
Owners of Rottweilers, pit bulls and other large "aggressive" breeds should take notice of the Court of Appeals decision. While most acknowledge that all dogs bite, some dogs, they say, were bred to kill. According to a special report in the September 2000 Vet Med Today, at least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 fatalities, with pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers being involved in more than half of those deaths.
There are an estimated 4.7 million dog bites reported a year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. According to Vet Med Today, large dogs most likely to bite are pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds, huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Doberman pinschers, Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Akitas.
"Anytime a dog is overly popular like the Rottweiler and pit bull are now, you are going to have problems," said John Sauls, Orange County's animal control director. "You will have people going below ethical breeding standards just to meet demand. When you do that, who knows what kind of dog one gets?"
Elizabeth Mosely of the Insurance Information Institute said dog bites account for a third of all liability claims, which is almost the same amount for burst pipes in homes. "It roughly costs $ 310 million a year," she said. "A couple of years ago it was $ 200 million."
Mosely said that a dog bite lawsuit can jeopardize homeowners' coverage, with most policies ranging from $ 100,000 to $ 300,000 in coverage. However, although more lawsuits are being filed against dog owners, most are settled before they reach the court.
In all dog bite cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the incident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.