For many of us, a dog is man’s best friend. So what should you do when someone else’s dog injures you or someone you love? Georgia has one of the highest rates of dog bite injury claims in the United States, and many of these injuries will require medical care. In order to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your dog attack injuries, you will need to establish legal liability on the part of the animal’s owner. That is why it’s important to know the laws surrounding dog bite claims in Georgia. If you or a loved one was bitten or otherwise injured by another person’s dog, contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and see how we can help you pursue your personal injury case.
What is the “One Bite Rule”?
Many states have a “one bite rule” for dog attack-related personal injury claims. Dogs are considered harmless until proven dangerous under most state laws. Under the “one bite rule” a dog cannot be considered dangerous unless it has bitten a person before, and the owner probably knew about this. When the dog bites another person, then the dog is considered dangerous, which means the owner is responsible for any damages that arise from this second bite. Essentially, the dog gets one free bite before the owner can be held liable.
Georgia follows a modified version of the “one bite rule” when it comes to dog attacks. This means that even if you cannot prove the dog that bit you injured someone else beforehand, you may still be able to pursue your personal injury claim by establishing negligence on the part of the dog’s owner or caretaker. This means that you will need to prove that the owner or caretaker of the dog knew it was dangerous and should have taken steps to prevent others from being injured.
Do Animal Attack Laws Only Cover Dog Bites?
Although dog bites are the most common animal attack injury, Georgia’s animal attack statute covers most any kind of injury caused by a domesticated animal, with the exception of domestic fowl and domestic livestock. These laws also cover any injury caused by a dog or another domesticated animal, not just bite injuries. For example, if a large dog charges at you and knocks you off an embankment, causing you to fracture your hip, you may still have grounds to pursue legal action, even if you were not bitten by the dog.
While a documented history of biting other people is the best way to show that a dog is dangerous and its owner should be held liable, there are ways to establish a dog as dangerous beyond biting. If the dog frequently growls, snarls, or barks aggressively at other people, has a history of charging at people or other animals, or has attempted to get away from its owner in order to attack people or pets, then it can be considered dangerous under Georgia law.
A failure to observe leash laws can also be used to establish liability on the part of a dog’s owner or caretaker. For example, if you are taking a walk somewhere that has a leash ordinance, and a dog that was not leashed bites you, the owner can be held responsible, even if they had no reason to believe that their dog might bite someone. The court will consider the dog owner’s disregard for the leash law as proof that the dog was dangerous.
When Can an Owner Not Be Held Liable?
If you provoked or taunted the dog that injured you, it is unlikely that the court will hold the dog’s owner liable for your injuries. This provision covers children as well – for example, if a child repeatedly poked a dog with a stick, and the dog bit them, then the child would be held responsible for deliberately causing the dog pain and fear, causing it to lash out. However, if the injured child is under the age of four, the court may find that they were too young to intentionally provoke the dog.
If you were illegally on someone else’s property and their dog bit you, the owner will generally not be held liable. However, if the owner ordered their dog to attack you, they will be considered liable for your injuries, as it is illegal to intentionally endanger anyone on your property, even if they are trespassing. Note that a clearly aggressive dog is considered an obvious hazard under the attractive nuisance doctrine. This means that a child trespasser would not be protected under this doctrine, unless the dog was not properly leashed.
Finally, Georgia is a comparative negligence state. This means that if the court rules that you were more than 50 percent responsible for your injuries, you will not receive compensation. This is why you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.
What Should I Do if I’m Bitten by a Dog?
If you are bitten by a dog, the first thing you need to do is to clean your bite wound and wrap it in a sterile bandage. Then you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dog bites carry a risk of infection and can lead to illness, severe injury, or even death if they are not treated. If you know the owner of the dog that bit you, you should ask for its vaccination records. If you are not certain of the dog’s identity, you should provide a doctor with a description of the animal. This is extremely important, as unvaccinated dogs can carry rabies.
After you get proper medical care for your dog bite, you need to call our law office. Georgia law favors owners when it comes to dog bite injury claims, and without a skilled attorney on your side, you may not receive the proper compensation for the medical bills, plastic surgery, and pain and suffering that may have resulted from the dog attack. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.