Dog Bite Liability
GEORGIA DOG BITE LAWS
In an instant, a seemingly innocent interaction with a dog can take a dangerous turn. Every year, emergency rooms see hundreds of thousands of victims of dog bits, most of which are children. Each state has different statutes regarding bringing a lawsuit for dog bite injuries. In the state of Georgia, the law typically falls in favor of dog owners instead of victims of attacks. This is due to the requirement of proof that more than a single ground for liability exists. In many other U.S. states, only a single ground of proof of liability is needed to bring a suit for damages. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the animal in question must have attacked another person prior. There are a variety of methods of proving multiple grounds of liability.
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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.
PROVING LIABILITY IN A DOG BITE INJURY CASE
Because the burden of proof rests on the victim, it’s imperative that you have a skilled personal injury attorney on your side who knows the ins and outs of the legal system. When pursuing a claim, you can expect that the animal owner responsible for your injuries will argue that they had no prior knowledge regarding their dog’s behavior. At our firm, you can rest assured that we will be thorough in our investigation to uncover and prove liability in your case.
In order to prove liability in a dog bite injury case, you must show that:
- The owner knew the animal had aggressive behavior
- The owner was careless with the animal and allowed it to leave the property or roam free
- You did not provoke the animal to act out aggressively
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 of 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.
The exception to these liability provisions is that if an animal were teased, abused, or otherwise provoked the owner cannot be held liable.
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If you or a loved one has been injured from a dog bite, you may have a right to take legal action against the dog’s owner. Possible reimbursements that may be required by at-fault parties can include medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of income. In the event that an animal has previous attacks on its record, more extensive punitive damages may be required.
At Jones & Swanson, we have more than 75 years of legal experience helping clients recover fair and just compensation for their injuries. When you come to our firm, you can trust that you’ll receive the compassion you need and the legal advocacy you deserve.
We’re ready to hear your story. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.
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