Animal Attacks and Owner Liability

Animal attacks are traumatic events for victims. The likelihood a person will be involved in an animal attack has many factors.  One of those factors is urban growth. As the population grows in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina, the number of pets also increases.  When things are squeezed together, the chance of tragedy increases commensurately.

Pet ownership, whether that of a common domesticated animal or a more exotic choice of animal, is a privilege. The privilege is accompanied by great responsibility. Minimally, pet owners must maintain their pet in a contained, controlled, and supervised environment at all times. If pet owners fail in this, injuries can happen.  If owners keep a dog in a fenced area, the owner has a responsibility to keep the fence well maintained and an appropriate height so that it is adequate to keep the dog confined. If a dog escapes a fence that was not adequately maintained or an appropriate height to confine a dog, the owner will be liable for injuries arising if their dog attacks.

If an owner takes a dog off his or her property, the dog must be on a leash or confined in some other appropriate manner.  Most cities and counties have ordinances prohibiting dogs from "running at large".  Owners that allow their dogs to run free are not only breaking the law but are also exposing themselves to liability if the "at large" dog injures someone.  Owners are also responsible for maintaining leashes in a securely fastened manner and will be liable if their dog "slips his leash" and attacks someone.

Dog Attacks

Of course, not all animal attacks that result in injury are dog attacks. Dog attacks are more common than other animal attacks because dogs live commonly among us.  Except in the most extreme circumstances, dogs are intrinsically safe and trusted members of their families. Most dog owners would never suspect their pooch might hurt someone. But unforeseen things happen every day.

Then, there are dogs breeds that are naturally aggressive, a trait that should be contained by training.  Sometimes owners train their animals toward aggressive behavior.  No matter the circumstance, owners are responsible for maintaining control of their dogs.  Dogs known to be aggressive can cause severe injuries. Some cities and counties have ordinances placing restrictions on dogs that have been deemed dangerous as a result of attacks to people or other animals.  Dogs deemed officially dangerous will likely encumber their owners with strict liability for any subsequent attack their dog is involved in, irrespective of the circumstance.  Owners are more likely to be held liable for injuries sustained in an attack by a dog that has a previous history of biting, regardless of its breed or official status as a dangerous animal.

The result of a dog attack can be extensive. Costs of medical treatment, lost time from work, missed school and social experiences, and physical and emotional scarring can be high and everlasting. The worst case scenarios involve children or attacks that result in loss of life.

If you have suffered a dog attack, it is important for you to get as much information as you can about the dog, its owners, and any witnesses as soon as your injuries have been attended.  Take pictures and contact Animal Control immediately.  Often times determining ownership, liability insurance and other matters can be tricky.  At DeMent Askew & Johnson, we are experienced advocates who will help ensure your attack is investigated and documented, and that all who may be liable for your injuries are held accountable.

Exotic Animal Attacks

Also with the increase in population, and human proclivity to stand out uniquely from the crowd, come exotic animal ownership, which does not often mix well in close proximity to other people.  Large cats, primates, snakes, birds, and other exotic animals are not only capable of causing tremendous injury depending on their procurement they may also carry disease.  Even more so than with dogs, owners of exotic animals are required to be in control of their animals at all times.  Owners of dogs and exotic animals alike are responsible for their animals both on their property, in public places, and even if their animal escapes.

At DeMent Askew & Johnson we represent people that have been injured from a dog bite or other animal attack. We take the steps necessary to ensure an owner is held responsible for your losses and for deterring the animal from attacking another person. We are experienced in all  facets of the investigative and trial process.  Our lawyers have the experience, knowledge, and resources necessary to handle major dog bite or animal attack cases.  We work to maximize compensation to you or your family following the tragedy of an animal attack. Call 919-833-5555 to discuss your animal attack claim. Consultations are cost and risk-free.


Contact Us


(919) 833-5555


333 Fayetteville Street, #1513
Raleigh, NC 27601-2950


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