Dog Bites and North Carolina Dog Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed May 14, 2019
Often referred to as "man's best friend," dogs sometimes revert to their wolf-like nature and attack their human friends. When you're bitten or otherwise injured by a dog, you may be able to sue for damages. Unlike some other states that have a "one bite" rule, North Carolina holds dog owners strictly liable for bites and other injuries caused by their furry friends. In other words, you don't have to prove that the owner was negligent as long as their dog caused a "severe injury" (as defined by statute).
If your damages exceed $25,000, then you'll file your claim in Superior Court; all other claims are filed in District Court (generally located in the same courthouse in each county). Most civil claims are settled before going to trial, but working with an attorney is usually in your best interests. General information about civil and criminal liability for dog bites in North Carolina is summarized in the sections below.
North Carolina Dog Laws at a Glance
When you've been attacked or otherwise injured by someone's pet, you don't have time to wade through dense legal texts. You just want to know how to handle the situation, whether it's notifying authorities or filing an injury claim. That's why we've provided the following, plain-English summary of the law.
North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 67, Section 67-4.4
|Civil Liability for Dog Bites||
Owners are held strictly liable for bites and other injuries caused by their dog if:
|Criminal Provisions for Dangerous Dogs||
It's illegal for an owner to:
Violation of these laws may be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor (up to 20 days in jail and a $200 fine).
|Exceptions to Liability for Dog Bites||
Owner's liability for dog bites doesn't apply to:
|Statutory Definition of "Potentially Dangerous Dog"||
A dog that the person or Board designated by the county or municipal authority responsible for animal control determines to have:
|Statutory Definition of "Dangerous Dog"||
A dog that, without provocation, has killed or inflicted severe injury* on a person.
*Severe injury means any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization.
|Time Limit for Filing Claim|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- North Carolina Code - FindLaw's hosted version of North Carolina's General Statutes and Constitution.
- North Carolina Laws - FindLaw's summaries of select North Carolina laws, including criminal, injury, employment, family, and small business laws.
- Animal Attack and Dog Bite Claim Resources
- Does the Type of Animal Affect a Bite Injury Case?
- Dog / Animal Bites: FAQ
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Questions About North Carolina Dog Laws
Dogs and other domestic animals not known to be vicious can sometimes lash out and bite people, causing injury. But regardless of whether the owner knew (or should have known) that the dog was dangerous, they're strictly liable for injuries. Don't leave it up to chance; contact an experienced North Carolina animal bites attorney today.
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