In many states, you may not have a personal injury claim if it is the first time that the dog has ever bitten anyone, called the "one bite rule". That is not the case in South Carolina. The owner of the dog is responsible if you are bitten by his dog, no excuses as long as you are acting lawfully. In legal terms, this means that the dog owner is strictly liable if his dog attacks someone regardless of whether the dog has ever shown any aggressive tenancies.
"Whenever any person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked." Section 47-3-110 South Carolina Code of Laws
Of course your first action is to get to a safe place, in the house, on top of a car or even up a tree and then get IMMEDIATE medical attention for your injuries. Dog bites can result in serious infections, rabies and permanent scarring if not promptly treated. Then, as in any personal injury claim, you need to document your injuries and the specific dog that attacked you. You will lose your claim if you cannot positively identify the dog and its owner. In one recent case, the victim was asked to identify the dog that attacked him from pictures of three similar neighborhood dogs and was not able to make a positive ID resulting in his case being dismissed.
I know that this sounds cruel but if you feed and care for a stray dog you can become the legal owner of the dog under the statute and be liable for damages if the dog attacks someone. Also, you don't know the dog's history or whether it has been vaccinated. It is better to be safe than sorry.
There is something wrong with someone that does not like dogs or someone that dogs do not like. If you have a dog, you need to be sure that your homeowner's insurance will provide coverage if you are sued. An insurance company will use any excuse to deny coverage and then you will be personally liable. Next, do not let your dog run loose in the neighborhood. Someone may provoke the dog into attacking them and then you will be sued. If a dog shows aggressive tendencies, then you are at a greater risk and should consider whether it is a good idea to keep the dog.
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