'Man's Best Friend' can be mean and costly!

  • By Field Dunaway
  • 04 Aug, 2017
There are 74.8 million dogs in the United States. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Approximately 4.5 million Americans are attacked by dogs every year, with 800,000 of those attacks requiring medical attention. Dog bites send nearly 36,800 victims to the hospital emergency room every year (more than 100 per day).

Getting bitten by a dog is the 5th most frequent and common reason for visits to the emergency room (ER) by children. Dog-attack victims in the U.S. suffer more than $1 Billion in monetary losses every year. 20% of the reported attacks were by dogs that were chained or broke free from a chain. Dog bites are becoming more and more common because of the increase in dog ownership and interactions between people and dogs. Dog bites account for the 2nd highest number of injuries to children, behind only baseball and football. Nevertheless, what they lack in frequency, canine attacks make up for in horror, grief and loss.

For many years, South Carolina followed the general laws in the South inasmuch as we were a "1 free bite" state, which means that unless the dog that you owned had actually bitten one person before, you were not liable for the attack. In 1974, Chief Justice Bruce Littlejohn eradicated this traditional in the law by finding that the one-free-bite-rule was outdated. He said that dogs, in and of themselves, have vicious propensities and therefore the on-bite rule is abrogated. as a result, dog owners are therefore liable for their dogs and the resulting injuries when they bite people.

In 1986, Tom W. Dunaway III, an Attorney and Founder of the Dunaway Law Office, tried a case by the name of Mitchell v. Bazzle, 304 S.C. 402, 404 S.E.2d 910 (1991) in the Anderson County Court of Common Pleas. This case alleged that Jessica Mitchell, a minor child, who lived in a mobile home park known as Village Hill, was bitten and seriously injured by another tenant's (Bazzle's) dog. That tenant had no insurance as a practical matter and the only person who might have had some insurance to cover little Jessica's disfigurement injuries was the landlord of the mobile home park. An Anderson County jury awarded Jessica Mitchell $25,000 and her case was appealed to the SC Supreme Court. It ruled under the common law that the landlord could not be held liable for his tenant's dog even if he knew of the dog's vicious propensities. This case was very important because it led to the passage of the Residential South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act (RLTA), which allowed tenants for the first time to have certain real and delineated rights regarding their rental propertied from landlords. As a result of this case and others that followed, tenants in SC now have defined rights in many aspects when dealing with landlords and rental properties.

Now, under South Carolina law, a landlord can be held "strictly" liable when a tenant's dog injures another person while on property that is under the control of the landlord under a theory of vicarious liability. This means that an owner of a dog can be held liable when it bites and injures another person even if they did not know the dog would attack. Likewise, a landlord that allows for tenants to keep dangerous dogs and other animals on their property can also be held liable for failure to keep the premises under their control in a reasonably safe manner. A dog owner may be liable for such an attack IF:
(1) the injuries are caused when the owner's dog bites or otherwise attacks another person;
(2) the injured person was in a public place or common area or was lawfully on private property; and
(3) the injured person did not provoke the dog. 

Of course, you take these injuries in light of the fact that under both Anderson County and Anderson City ordinances, a dog owner is required to have their pets on a leash, although this is rarely enforced. So how can you protect yourself when you're walking? Be sure that you have medical insurance coverage. Also, carry bear pepper spray (it shoots twice as far as mace) with you at all times. If you see dogs roaming around your neighborhood call the Anderson County Animal Control and/or notify your landlord immediately. Demand in writing that he remove the animal from your neighborhood. 

Although you may recover from a dog bite injury through the dog owner or the landlord's insurance policy, dog bite attacks are extremely emotionally and physically damaging. If you believe you have been the victim of an unprovoked dog attack or an attack from any other dangerous animal, please contact the Dunaway Law Office at (864)-224-1144 or by visiting us at www.dunawayfirm.com

   
 


Dunaway Blog

By Field Dunaway 04 Aug, 2017
There are 74.8 million dogs in the United States. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Approximately 4.5 million Americans are attacked by dogs every year, with 800,000 of those attacks requiring medical attention. Dog bites send nearly 36,800 victims to the hospital emergency room every year (more than 100 per day).

Getting bitten by a dog is the 5th most frequent and common reason for visits to the emergency room (ER) by children. Dog-attack victims in the U.S. suffer more than $1 Billion in monetary losses every year. 20% of the reported attacks were by dogs that were chained or broke free from a chain. Dog bites are becoming more and more common because of the increase in dog ownership and interactions between people and dogs. Dog bites account for the 2nd highest number of injuries to children, behind only baseball and football. Nevertheless, what they lack in frequency, canine attacks make up for in horror, grief and loss.

For many years, South Carolina followed the general laws in the South inasmuch as we were a "1 free bite" state, which means that unless the dog that you owned had actually bitten one person before, you were not liable for the attack. In 1974, Chief Justice Bruce Littlejohn eradicated this traditional in the law by finding that the one-free-bite-rule was outdated. He said that dogs, in and of themselves, have vicious propensities and therefore the on-bite rule is abrogated. as a result, dog owners are therefore liable for their dogs and the resulting injuries when they bite people.

In 1986, Tom W. Dunaway III, an Attorney and Founder of the Dunaway Law Office, tried a case by the name of Mitchell v. Bazzle, 304 S.C. 402, 404 S.E.2d 910 (1991) in the Anderson County Court of Common Pleas. This case alleged that Jessica Mitchell, a minor child, who lived in a mobile home park known as Village Hill, was bitten and seriously injured by another tenant's (Bazzle's) dog. That tenant had no insurance as a practical matter and the only person who might have had some insurance to cover little Jessica's disfigurement injuries was the landlord of the mobile home park. An Anderson County jury awarded Jessica Mitchell $25,000 and her case was appealed to the SC Supreme Court. It ruled under the common law that the landlord could not be held liable for his tenant's dog even if he knew of the dog's vicious propensities. This case was very important because it led to the passage of the Residential South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act (RLTA), which allowed tenants for the first time to have certain real and delineated rights regarding their rental propertied from landlords. As a result of this case and others that followed, tenants in SC now have defined rights in many aspects when dealing with landlords and rental properties.

Now, under South Carolina law, a landlord can be held "strictly" liable when a tenant's dog injures another person while on property that is under the control of the landlord under a theory of vicarious liability. This means that an owner of a dog can be held liable when it bites and injures another person even if they did not know the dog would attack. Likewise, a landlord that allows for tenants to keep dangerous dogs and other animals on their property can also be held liable for failure to keep the premises under their control in a reasonably safe manner. A dog owner may be liable for such an attack IF:
(1) the injuries are caused when the owner's dog bites or otherwise attacks another person;
(2) the injured person was in a public place or common area or was lawfully on private property; and
(3) the injured person did not provoke the dog. 

Of course, you take these injuries in light of the fact that under both Anderson County and Anderson City ordinances, a dog owner is required to have their pets on a leash, although this is rarely enforced. So how can you protect yourself when you're walking? Be sure that you have medical insurance coverage. Also, carry bear pepper spray (it shoots twice as far as mace) with you at all times. If you see dogs roaming around your neighborhood call the Anderson County Animal Control and/or notify your landlord immediately. Demand in writing that he remove the animal from your neighborhood. 

Although you may recover from a dog bite injury through the dog owner or the landlord's insurance policy, dog bite attacks are extremely emotionally and physically damaging. If you believe you have been the victim of an unprovoked dog attack or an attack from any other dangerous animal, please contact the Dunaway Law Office at (864)-224-1144 or by visiting us at www.dunawayfirm.com

   
 


By Field Dunaway 30 Jun, 2017
South Carolina utilizes a numeric point system to manage drivers on state roads. Under this system, each point serves as a punishment against your license to drive, and if you receive too many points (12 pts) during a certain time period, your license can and likely will be suspended. 

When a SC driver receives 12 or more points on their license, their driver's license will automatically be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, certain driving related offenses like Driving Under the Influence (DUI) require a mandatory driving suspension and are not included under the point system.
NOTE: The SCDMV may assign more points AND automatically suspend your license for receiving certain traffic tickets while driving a commercial vehicle with a CDL (commercial driver's license).

When you receive 6 points or more against your license, the SCDMV will mail you a written WARNING notice. The length of time your license will be suspended is dependent upon the number of points you have accumulated against your license. For example:

12 to 15 points = suspended for 3 months
16 or 17 points = suspended for 4 months
18 to 19 points = suspended for 5 months
20 or more points = suspended for 6 months

How long do the points stay on my license?

Points don't stay on your license forever because they only have a "half-life". The SC Department of Motor Vehicles reduces each driving violation point total by half each year. This means that 1-year old points are cut in half each year, and 2-year-old points are removed completely as long as you don't get anymore violations during this period. So, say you receive a violation worth 4 points. The DMV will remove 2 of those points after 1 year, and the other 2 after 2 years. 

  If you plead guilty or are convicted by a judge (bench trial) or by a jury (jury trial) of certain traffic offenses, you will penalized a certain number of points against your license depending on the type of driving violation. Below are some of the main driving offenses people often find themselves charged with along with the number of points each offense carries: See ( http://www.dmv.org/sc-south-carolina/point-system.php )

Reckless Driving - 6 pts
Hit & Run w/ Property Damage - 6 pts
Speeding 10 mph or Less - 2 pts
Speeding b/t 10 & 25 mph - 4 pts
Speeding Over 25 mph - 6 pts
Failure to Yield Right of Way - 4 pts
Passing Unlawfully - 4 pts
Disobeying any Traffic Control Device - 4 pts
Failing to give Signal when Stopping or Turning - 4 pts
Driving too Fast for Conditions - 2 to 6 pts (depending on Officer's discretion)
Passing Unlawfully - 4 pts
Driving on Wrong Side of the Road - 4 pts
Unlawful Lane Change - 2 pts
Following Too Closely - 4 pts
Failing to Dim Headlights - 2 pts
Operating with Improper Lights - 2 pts
Improper Brake Lights - 4 pts
Driving Left of Center - 2 pts
Improper Backing - 2 pts
Operating Vehicle in Unsafe Condition - 2 pts

Can I do anything to get points back on my license? YES

South Carolina Defensive Driving Options

Defensive driving courses, also known as "Traffic School" courses, are designed to make you a better driver and give you point credit back to your license once they are completed. These course may allow you to:

- Deduct points from your driving record
- Dismiss a traffic ticket or satisfy a court requirement
- Earn a car insurance discount

Typically, you'll be able to choose between taking an online class or one in a classroom at a location near you. These 8-hour courses must be taken in South Carolina and points may only be reduced 1 time in a 3-year period. The class MUST be approved by the National Safety Council's "Defensive Driving Course". For a complete list of South Carolina DMV - approved traffic schools please visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles website. 

















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