If you were recently bitten or attacked by a dangerous dog, you’re
probably wondering about your rights under Georgia’s dog bite laws.
What if the dog has never bitten before? What if you were bitten while
at a friend’s house? What if the dog’s owner is blaming you
for the dog’s aggressive behavior? Read on as we explain Georgia’s
dog bite law in further detail. If you have more questions, don’t
hesitate to contact our firm directly.
We’re the first to admit that dogs can be great companions, but that
doesn’t mean that dogs can’t “snap” and bite or
viciously attack an innocent person. After all, dogs are still animals.
In many cases, a dog is made dangerous because of his or her interactions
with humans. For example, a dog can become aggressive because they are
not properly socialized from birth. This is common when a dog is attached
to a chain or cord all their life and receive little, if any, human interaction.
Other times, a dog is physically abused, confined to a small cage all day
long, or neglected by their owners. Sadly, when dogs are mistreated and
abused, they become aggressive toward people and often other animals.
In Georgia where there’s a lot of underground dog fighting, such
dog owners are not only raising aggressive dogs, but they are knowingly
creating legal liabilities. In other cases, a dog was given all the love
in the world, but the dog developed aggressive behaviors anyways.
Does the Law Protect Me?
Like other states, Georgia has enacted a
dog bite law, which can be found under Section 51-2-7 of the Georgia Code. In order
for a dog’s owner to be held liable for any injuries caused by their
animal, the injured party must be able to prove that:
- The dog had a "vicious propensity," meaning the dog had previously
bitten or attacked another person causing injury;
- The dog owner was careless in managing the dog OR allowed the dog to run free; and
- THe victim of the attack did not provoke the attack.
However, there is an important exception to the above requirements. If
a local ordinance, or “leash law,” requires the dog to be
on a leash and the dog is not on a leash at the time of the attack, then
the dog’s “vicious propensity” is assumed and no evidence
of prior bites or attacks is necessary. This is important as it can often
be challenging to find evidence of a dog’s history for attacking
or biting people. Many times dog owners let their dogs out in an unfenced
yard to relieve themselves or the gate to a fenced backyard is left open.
Unfortunately, all too often we see those actions result in dogs leaving
the owner’s property where they attack those around them including
neighborhood children, joggers, and delivery people.
To file a dog bite claim,
contact our firm to schedule a free case evaluation with a Smyrna
personal injury lawyer!