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The ins and outs of North Carolina’s dog bite law

On Behalf of | May 12, 2019 | Firm News

Dogs frequently become part of the family and are treated like humans. At times, however, these furry companions can lash out and inflict harm on another.

North Carolina has some of the most challenging dog bite laws on the books, and navigating them after an incident can seem impossible. If you or someone you know has suffered a bite, take a look at some of the critical points of the statutes.


Under North Carolina law, a dog that has bitten a human must remain under observation by animal control or the owner. The officer investigating the incident decides which. The dog’s confinement lasts a minimum of 10 days. If the owner refuses, the police will charge him or her with a misdemeanor.

Medical care

Getting treated for a dog bite is crucial. The dog may have rabies or other diseases that transfer to humans. Seek medical treatment and report the bite to the doctor. If you do not have the money to get help, document your injuries with pictures if you plan on taking action against the owner.

Statute of limitations

The victim of a dog bite has three years to bring a formal lawsuit against the owner.

One free bite

If a dog that bites you has not attacked before, the owner is automatically off the hook. This is the “one-free-bite pass” under the statute. A court may find an exception if the dog lives a majority of its life outdoors.

Previous history

A dog that bites repeatedly may have serious problems, and the owner may wind up responsible. Some dogs have the label of “extremely dangerous” by authorities for some of the following reasons:

  • It has hurt or killed another animal
  • It has inflicted severe injury to a person
  • It has gotten loose and threatened harm

If you have dealt with a dog bite, you may want to contact an attorney who can help you understand your rights as a victim. A personal injury lawsuit is the best way to go about recovering what you lost.