Dog bite laws in North Carolina

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Dogs are biting more frequently nationwide—or more dog bite victims are filing lawsuits. In 2016, State Farm paid more than $121 million for 3,660 dog bite claims, up 15 percent from the year before. North Carolina ranks 14th in the nation for dog bites, reported the News & Observer. “In 2015, North Carolina had 56 dog bite claims which cost $990,571, according to State Farm. In 2016, those numbers jumped to 77 dog bite claims which cost more than $1.89 million.”


North Carolina law allows for the liability of dog owners, even when the dog has knocked you down or damaged property without the offense having to be caused by a bite. The victim must show that the dog injured the person or damaged the person’s property, and that the dog was a “dangerous dog” as defined by North Carolina civil dog bite law. A “dangerous dog” is a dog that the local animal control board has determined to be potentially dangerous; is owned or trained for dog fighting; or has killed or severely injured a person without being provoked. A “potentially dangerous dog” is a dog that has bitten someone, attacked or killed another animal, or acted aggressively or threateningly when approached by people.


NC law also imposes criminal penalties on owners who know they have dangerous dogs, yet fail to take certain measures to restrain the dogs by leashing or muzzling them when they are off home property. Owners are also liable when they allow others to purchase or adopt a potentially dangerous dog without giving a written notice that the dog is dangerous. Several North Carolina counties and municipalities have their own “”Dangerous Dog or Potentially Dangerous Dog” ordinances.


North Carolina’ law is a “strict liability law,” which means that the law applies even when the owner used reasonable care to prevent the dog from injuring others.  Be sure to control your dogs carefully, whether you think they are dangerous or not. Under the right circumstances, any dog might bite, regardless of breed. A State Farm agent told the News & Observer, “Many people don’t think to add a personal liability umbrella policy to provide extra coverage in case their dog does bite someone.”


Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury and workers’ compensation law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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