Dogs of all breeds can cause devastating and sometimes even catastrophic and fatal injuries. Children are especially susceptible to serious injuries from a dog.
Dog bite claims in Georgia can present some unique challenges and it is important to hire a lawyer who has experience handling dog bite cases and knows the laws in Georgia and what you are required to prove in order to successfully bring a claim.
Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7, states the following:
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. In proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated fowl including roosters with spurs. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated livestock.
In addition to the statute above, under Georgia law, in order for a dog bite claim to be successful, the victim must also show that either the owner of the dog knew of the dog’s vicious propensities prior the attack, or that they failed to comply with an applicable leash law by keeping their animal under proper control.
If you or a family member was bitten by someone else’s dog, there are certain steps you can take to help make sure that you protect and preserve evidence for a claim:
Seek medical treatment immediately – dog bites can often cause serious lacerations and deep wounds but even minor dog bites can lead to serious infections. Consulting a doctor or medical professional as soon as possible can help prevent permanent damage and will also help you to document the full extent of your injuries.
Contact the Police and Animal Control –You will need to file a report to document the incident. In most cases that means contacting your local police department and/or animal control. They can send someone out to the scene to take a report and document the incident and your injuries.
Obtain information – Try to get as much information about the dog, and the owner, if possible. Ask the owner for their name, phone number, and address. Find out where the dog came from and what type of dog it is.
Take pictures – Take pictures of the dog, its’ owner, the location where the bite occurred and of your injuries.
In Georgia, you are entitled to recover for both special and general damages.
Costs and expenses in a dog bite case can add up quickly and you may often find yourself facing large medical bills. In addition, dog bites can be extremely painful and can often require a long time to heal.
Your damages from a dog bite might include:
Medical bills and expenses
Pain and suffering
Scarring or permanent disfigurement
Every claim in Georgia has a set time limit in which it can be brought. This time limit is referred to as the statute of limitations. This is essentially the time limit in which you have to file a claim or lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims is typically two years from the date of the injury.
There are situations where your time to bring a claim may be longer or shorter depending upon certain facts. It is important that you consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Not only do you want to protect your right to bring a claim, but time is the enemy of all evidence. A lawyer can help you preserve evidence by:
Investigating and documenting the incident
Preserving witnesses and their statements
Gathering photographic and physical evidence
Identifying owners and responsible parties.