On Tuesday January 3, 2017 a five-year-old girl was attacked by a neighbor’s three pit bulls after the dogs escaped through an opening in their owner’s fence. The child received emergency treatment for bites to her face, shoulders, and legs. Two weeks later another five-year-old girl was seriously injured and listed in critical condition after being attacked by three dogs. During that same attack a six-year-old boy was killed. These recent dog attacks raise concerns regarding Georgia dog owner liability and what can be done to protect small children from similar attacks.
Dog Bite Statistics
Unfortunately, dog attacks are not rare and the majority of the time these attacks involve young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur annually. It is estimated that 1,000 people are bitten by dogs each day. Children between the ages of five and nine are at the greatest risk of receiving serious injuries related to dog bites. Approximately 81 percent of all dog attacks involve children, 86 percent of all dog attacks cause bodily harm or maiming, and 76 percent of dog attacks result in fatalities.
The number of people in the United States who seek hospital care for dog bite related injuries has doubled over the last two decades. One out of every five dog bites that is not immediately treated becomes infected and require extensive wound care. Individuals who are maimed or otherwise seriously injured in a dog attack can expect to pay an average of $18,000.00 during their initial hospital stay. Receiving follow-up care, plastic surgery, and psychological counseling for the trauma cause the initial treatment cost to rise substantially.
Georgia Dog Bite Liability
Currently, dogs in Georgia that are involved in a dog bite attack are initially considered to be harmless. In short, dog’s in Georgia are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. It is up to the victim of the dog bite to prove that the dog owner was aware that the dog was not harmless. However, Georgia law does require dogs to be leashed and properly enclosed. Dog owners who are considered negligent for violating local ordinances have a harder time defending their position after a dog attack. If a dog in Georgia has previously attacked a person that dog is then classified as a “dangerous dog” and assessing liability changes.