Injuries caused by a pit bull attack can be devastating. Tragically, sometimes these animal attacks are so awful that the victim succumbs to his or her injuries. And, in nearly all of these cases, the attack was preventable. All too often, pit bulls are owned and kept by adults who just are not responsible and do not realize the inherent danger posed by a pit bull. If you have lost a loved one to a pit bull attack, trust the experienced litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law. Our team will fight to make sure that those persons responsible for the loss of your family member are held accountable.
The 2015 statistics on wrongful deaths caused by pit bull attacks are staggering. Nationwide, there were 34 fatalities caused by dog bites. Of these deaths, 28 were caused by pit bulls, despite the fact they make up only 6.6% of the total dog population in the United States. Tragically, the majority of pit bull attack deaths involve small children under the age of 9 and the elderly. These groups simply are not able to defend themselves against a powerful pit bull in the way that a grown, mature adult may be able.
A negligence case involving a death by a pit bull is similar to any other type of wrongful death case recognized by North Carolina law. There are specific “damages” that may be recovered from the negligent owner of the dog or any other responsible party (such as a landlord). Those damages include compensation for:
- The expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of your family member caused by the pit bull attack;
- The pain and suffering experienced by your loved one before his or her death;
- Funeral expenses;
- The lost “net income” of your family member; and
- The loss of your family member’s “services, protection, care and assistance,” and “society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice.”
If it can be proven the pit bull owner acted willfully and wantonly in causing the injury, such as if he or she regularly fought the pit bull, punitive damages may also be recoverable. These are damages that are not intended to compensate any particularly harm but solely to punish the pit bull owner for his or her conduct.
Establishing that a pit bull owner was negligent and, therefore, legally liable for the death of your loved one is not as simple as some folks might believe. An insurance company will not automatically “accept liability” and pay the limits of its insurance coverage just because its insured owned the dog and the dog caused a death. On the contrary, many insurance companies will deny responsibility for making any payment, arguing that there is no evidence the pit bull previously bit anyone else and, therefore, they are not liable under North Carolina’s so-called “one bite rule.” Because insurers often times take this stance, it can be necessary to hire a North Carolina wrongful death attorneys to litigate the case and, if necessary, take the case to a jury trial. Many times there is, in fact, evidence that the dog previously bit someone else, the insurer simply did not investigate. Often times, neighbors are great sources of evidence about the dog. Even if the pit bull did not previously bite someone else, the use of an expert witness such as a veterinarian can help establish that even without evidence of a prior bite, a pit bull owner should be on notice of a pit bull’s inherently dangerous and vicious propensities. With this evidence that the pit bull owner was on notice of the dog’s dangerous propensities, liability of the owner can be established even without proof of a prior bite.
The Raleigh law firm of Maginnis Law regularly assists victims of vicious pit bull attacks and families in wrongful death cases. Our firm offers free consultations for all families who have lost a loved one due to a pit bull attack. We will travel to meet with you and, if we can assist, will offer a contingency fee agreement where you owe no attorneys’ fees unless and until we recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with our North Carolina pit bull wrongful death attorney, contact T. Shawn Howard at 919.526.0450 or visit our contact page. You can also email questions about your case to Shawn directly.