Georgia's Dog Bite Law

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!