With North Carolina’s passage of Senate Bill 290 on September 1, dogs and cats may now patronize bars, breweries and taprooms with their owners. As reported by the Winston-Salem Journal, if an establishment does not prepare any food items and serves drinks in disposable or plastic cups, patrons may bring their animals inside with them.

While relaxing with a beverage and a pet seems like a breakthrough and welcome event for animal lovers across the Tar Heel State, individuals may want to learn more about possible animal-related mishaps they may encounter. Before the bill’s passage, only patrol dogs and service animals for patrons with disabilities had permission to come into an establishment. With dogs and cats allowed, owners of establishments may find themselves facing a higher risk of liability for slip-and-fall injuries.

Premises liabilities for injuries

There is a general duty of care to keep premises free of wet floors, which could result from drink spills, animal saliva and pet incontinence. Establishments allowing dogs inside may decide to provide water bowls, which could result in more spills. Establishments must warn individuals of all potential accident dangers. Failing to display a visible warning sign in areas designated for animals to drink water may result in a breach of duty.

Animal bites or attacks

While an establishment may now allow dogs inside, they must remain on a leash. An owner who loses control of his or her pet has strict liability for injuries and damages caused by a canine’s bite or attack. A court may find contributory negligence or partial fault on the part of the establishment if it created an unsafe condition that caused an animal to go on the attack.

Filing a claim for slip-and-fall damages

Injuries caused by wet floors and slipping and falling may require a legal action to recover for injuries. An individual harmed while patronizing an establishment has a right to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.