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Dog Bites

More than 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs on an annual basis and approximately one out of every six bites is serious enough to require medical attention. Severe injuries include broken bones, death, and gashes that require stitches or cosmetic surgery to repair.

Owners of dogs, regardless of the breed of dog, can be held responsible if they are found guilty of violating local and /or state laws. Also, if an owner is aware that their dog is potentially dangerous and the dog is labeled potentially dangerous, the owner is liable for injuries. According to Georgia law, dog owners must pay damages to victims if they knew or should have known their dog had a tendency to bite people and cause injuries.

Your right to recover for a dog bite in Georgia will be dependent upon either the dog’s history and/or the leash laws applicable in the county or city where the dog attack occurred. Information related to the dog’s history very often must be gathered in order for a person injured by a dog bite to have any chance to recover damages. In addition, variations in the leash laws for dogs can have a significant impact on your recovery.

If you live in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia, and have suffered injuries after being bitten or attacked by a dog or another animal, it is important to know your legal rights. Yates Law can help you understand the laws of the state and help you win damages caused by a vicious dog.

Georgia’s Dog Bite Statute

Georgia’s dog bite statute can be found at O.C.G.A. 51-2-7 in the state’s code of laws. In addition to dog bites, the statute also covers injuries caused by other animals. In order to prove that an animal’s owner is liable under the statute, the injured person must show that:

  • the animal is vicious or dangerous,
  • the owner was careless with the animal or let it “go at liberty,” which caused the injury, and
  • the injured person did not provoke the animal.

Georgia’s statute covers nearly any kind of animal, and nearly any kind of animal behavior that causes injury. For instance, if you are injured when a large dog jumps on you and knocks you down, you may be able to seek compensation under this statute. To be properly compensated in the state of Georgia, you have to prove the owner’s negligence caused the dog bite.

TIPS:

  • Get whatever information you can regarding the owner of the dog
  • Make a report to your local animal control agency or the police immediately
  • Note the dog’s breed, color, height and weight. If safe to do so, take a picture of the dog
  • Note if the dog is on a leash and if the dog had for rabies tags
  • Take photographs of your injuries

Inherently Dangerous Dog Breeds (Doberman, German Shephard, Pitbull, Rottweiler, etc.)

A potentially dangerous dog is one that bites, attacks, or causes danger to people without being provoked. Owners of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs-and their insurance companies-must pay dog bite victims for damages and injuries if they are found guilty of violating local and state laws. If an owner is aware that their dog is potentially dangerous and the dog is labeled potentially dangerous, the owner is liable for injuries. According to Georgia law, dog owners must pay damages to victims if they knew or should have known their dog had a tendency to bite people and cause injuries.

If dog owners fail to take steps to rein in their pets and an accident occurs, they are responsible. As a result, dog owners must adhere to certain guidelines to control their dogs and protect innocent bystanders. If any of the following rules is broken, a dog owner could be sued:

  • Dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs have to be registered in the state of Georgia.
  • Dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs must be securely restrained both inside and outside. If placed outside, the dog must be placed in an area enclosed by a fence or other structure. The structure has to prevent the animal from escaping; it also has to stop people from entering the area.
  • If a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog is outside, but not in an enclosed area, it must be muzzled, leashed, or chained, and physically restrained by a person.
  • Owners of potentially dangerous dogs or dangerous dogs must place signs on their property warning people that a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog is there.
  • Owners of dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs must have at least $15,000 worth of liability insurance for personal injuries caused by the dog. In lieu of liability insurance, a dog owner could obtain a surety bond worth at least $15,000 to pay a dog bite victim.

Since injuries from dog bites are frequently covered by homeowner’s insurance coverage, insurance investigators are often at work immediately after a dog attack occurs. The insurance company is protecting the person it insures, the dog owner, from potential responsibility from the dog bite. This includes gathering witness statements, photographing the scene, arranging for counsel for claims as well as any other action that will help the dog owner avoid responsibility.

Although the approach or tactics of insurance companies vary, many insurance companies try to reach a quick settlement with an injured person. Their purpose is to avoid responsibility for future medical expenses, lost wages and other damages that are likely to develop. This is a trap which an injured person needs to avoid. When a person is injured by a dog bite, it generally takes months to completely assess the person’s injuries. At that point, the person may need reconstructive surgery or other treatment. The injuries may leave the person permanently disabled even after corrective surgery. Therefore, the true value of a claim can only be assessed after a firm prognosis has been established by a physician. The State of Georgia provides in most, but not all cases, a two-year period of time in which to file a lawsuit on a claim. Accordingly, there is no need to rush to a settlement with an insurance company. You will only regret the settlement later when your injuries have become progressively worse. Call Yates Law now at 404-662-2227 for a free, no obligation initial client consultation.

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