North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Catastrophic Dog Bite Injury Case

Dog bite attacks can lead to devastating injuries that are painful and that may leave permanent scarring. It can be difficult to remember exactly what happened when a dog bite injury occurs quickly and suddenly. Our seasoned team of Charlotte personal injury lawyers is standing by to help you evaluate your potential dog bite case, which includes assisting you with gathering evidence and working with insurance companies.

In a recent case, a man was reportedly attacked by two dogs while walking down the street requiring him to be hospitalized for 13 days. He sustained permanent injuries to his legs as a result of the attack. One month before this attack, the man’s brother was attacked by dogs while walking on the same street.

The man brought a civil lawsuit against the owner of the dogs and the owners of the properties where the dogs were being housed. Two sisters owned the two adjoining parcels of land. There was a residence on the first sister’s parcel. On the second sister’s side was a vacant and uninhabitable home. Neither party used the parcels for a permanent residence and both lived out of state. The sisters and their brother had keys and full access to the inhabitable home at all times. The brother ran a pitbull breeding business and built on enclosure on the second sister’s land. Electricity and water from the first sister’s property were used to support the dog breeding business. There was no fence between the sisters’ parcels.

In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged strict liability and negligence per se. Eventually, the court granted motions dismissing many of the claims against the defendants and dismissing all claims as to one of the sisters. The plaintiff appealed. The appellate court affirmed all but one of the dismissals, noting that the sister had failed to show that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether she was liable under a theory of negligence per se based on Wadesboro Code of Ordinances section 4-4. This ordinance makes it unlawful for people within the town to keep or cause to be kept vicious animals unless they are confined within a secure building or enclosure or under restraint.

The sister alleged that she did not violate the statute because she was not an owner of the dogs and did not keep the dogs or cause them to be kept pursuant to the ordinance. The appellate court concluded that there was a genuine issue of fact regarding whether the sister was causing the dogs to be kept by allowing her brother to house the operation on her property and by furnishing electricity and water to support the business. As a result, the appellate court remanded the case for further proceedings as to whether the sister should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Maurer Law’s seasoned team of attorneys provides a free consultation to discuss your situation and whether we can help you. We have handled a wide variety of injury cases on behalf of individuals throughout North Carolina. Call us now at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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