Dog owners take their animals out in public everywhere they go. More dogs, and more contact with animals, have caused an increase in severe dog bite injuries.
You may be entitled to financial compensation if you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack. The Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys, spearheaded by Brady M. Larrison, represents victims in dog bite cases in Athens, GA. Send us a message online or call 770-626-7895 to begin your case.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can be far more serious than they seem at first. If the bite punctures the skin, it can cause lasting and severe injury. Here are some of the common injuries from dog bites:
- Serious cuts and lacerations to the skin
- Infection from the wound
- Nerve damage
- Head and neck injuries
- Emotional trauma and distress
- Severe scarring
- Damage to the eyes and vision
Making the risk even worse is that many dog bite victims are small children. Dogs are territorial animals, and they see the child on the same level as them as a threat. When dogs bite children, the wounds are often on the face and neck area, requiring immediate and extensive medical treatment.
You Must Prove Negligence in Dog Bite Attacks
Unlike the laws in many other states, you will not automatically be entitled to financial compensation if you are bitten by a dog in Georgia. There is no such thing as strict liability in Georgia. Instead, you must prove that the dog’s owner was negligent. Georgia uses a modified version of the “one free bite” rule.
Georgia dog bite law is in § 51-2-7 of the Georgia Code. The law states that:
“A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured.”
How to Get Dog Bite Compensation in Athens, GA
There are many things to unpack in this statute, meaning that there are a number of things that you would need to prove in order to be paid for your injuries, including:
- The dog was vicious or dangerous: The owner would have needed prior knowledge of the animal’s danger, either through an actual attack or a propensity for aggressive behavior. For example, a history of growling and baring teeth at passersby may be a sign of viciousness.
- The dog owner carelessly managed the animal: The owner would have needed to take steps to restrain the animal. Even if there are no local leash laws, an owner must keep the dog from going around on its own and harming people.
- The bite victim did not provoke the animal: Many dog bite victims are small children, and the insurance company may try to accuse them of doing something that made the dog angry. However, there is a high standard to show that someone “provoked a dog.”
The principles of the dog bite law are largely the same. The owner should have taken reasonable action to protect the general public in the face of a known risk.
Meeting Your Burden of Proof in a Dog Bite Attack
If you have been injured in a dog bite attack, you would have the burden of proof to show that the dog was vicious or dangerous and the owner carelessly managed the dog. In addition, you would also need to prove that you had a right to be on the property where you were attacked.
You would need the following evidence for your case:
- Testimony that the dog had either attacked someone before or had a track record of aggressive conduct
- Proof that the dog owner was aware of such conduct
- Records from local animal control indicating a previous bite
- Testimony that the dog was unrestrained at the time of the attack
- A police report that shows that the dog’s owner violated local ordinances or a citation (however, police reports are not admissible in a trial)
Dog bites should be covered by the pet owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, and that is precisely part of your challenge. These companies may deny claims, knowing that Georgia law may be favorable to dog owners. They may also try to under compensate you for your injuries even if you are able to meet your burden of proof. Your claim could be worth far more, and the insurance company may not want to pay what you deserve.
What to Do if You Have Suffered a Dog Bite
If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog bite, you should do the following:
- Get immediate medical treatment, both to help your own health and to get prompt documentation of your injuries.
- Quickly hire an experienced dog bite attorney to start building the proof to show that the dog owner was negligent
Contact an Athens, GA Dog Bite Lawyer Today
The Larrison Law Firm Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney has experience helping dog bite victims get results and financial compensation for their claims. You should begin the legal process immediately by scheduling a free initial consultation.
Dog Bite Case FAQs
Do I need to pay my lawyer if I lose my case?
No. We work for you on a contingency basis, and you owe us nothing unless you win.
Are there leash laws in Georgia?
While there are no statewide leash laws, municipalities like Athens have their own ordinances that require dog owners to restrain their pets.
What if the insurance company denies my claim?
Denial of your claim is not the end of the road for you legally. You can file a lawsuit against the dog owner in court.