I agree with the other lawyers. You may have a case if the dog that attacked yours has a history of aggressive behavior, or if there is a leash law in your area. You would have the burden of proving that the owner of the other doctor acted negligently and caused you damages. However, if there is a leash law, then they will likely argue that you contributed to the incident by not having your dog on a leash. North Carolina is one of the very few states left in the country that still has pure contributory negligence, meaning that if it is found that some negligent conduct on your part contributed to the incident (e.g., not having your dog on the leash), it acts as a complete bar to recovery. Consult with an experienced attorney in your area to go over all the facts and determine what your best options are.
Additionally, North Carolina still considers dogs and other pets personal property, meaning that you can only recover damages for the vet bills and related expenses. You cannot recover damages for items like pain and suffering.
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I am not sure if there is a tethering ordinance in your area or in your association. If the other dog was the aggressor, there could be liability imposed upon the owner of the other dog. This would especially be true if the other dog has a history of being aggressive. If there is a tethering law, it is very possible hat both dog owners could be found partially at fault for the incident. If you sustained veterinary bills, you may be able to file a small claim action against the other dog owner for the damages.
He might be. Your ability to recover would be limited to your vet bills and related expenses, however. The fact your dog was not on a leash may or may not have an impact.
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It depends. If there was no leash law and neither of you had your dogs leashed, depending on the exact facts, you may be able to recover for vet bills (no emotional damage, just vet bills). However, the other person may argue that you contributed to the situation by not having your dog leashed.
The fact that your dog was not on a leash is a factor, even if you can prove (and by that I mean "real" proof such as prior substantiated complaints to animal control, not neighborhood gossip) that the other dog is aggressive. Even then, the fact that your dog was not leashed will still be a factor.
Also, you say this happened in a "common area" - what does this mean? If you have a homeowners' association or if this is a rental, you may have additional leash laws above and beyond what is required by your town that neither of you were complying with.
Finally, be aware that even if you were to sue the other owner in small claims court and win, you still may never be able to collect any judgment - winning a judgment and collecting a judgment are two entirely different things.
If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.
It is unlikely that your neighbor would be liable unless the dog had a past history of violent behavior. Nonetheless, you might want to submit a claim to the homeowners insurance carrier for your neighbor and see what happens. I am sorry to hear about that unfortunate situation.