The Georgia Supreme Court recently issued a decision in a case that involves how the court must approach dog bite cases. Proving liability for dog bite cases has largely not been the responsibility of the dog and its owner. In other words, the victim is required to prove that the dog in question had a history of violent or biting behavior that should have placed the dog’s owner on notice that the dog has a violent streak. While it has traditionally been the rule in Georgia that a dog is presumed innocent until it is proven to be guilty of behavior that could cause harm, this recent Georgia Supreme Court decision makes it easier for dog bite victims to reach this burden of proof. If you have been the victim of a violent dog attack, contact an Atlanta dog bite lawyer immediately.
A History of Violence
The state’s dog bite law is clear that a dog’s owner is liable for a bite injury if the owner knows that his or her dog has a history of biting behavior. It is up to the victim to prove that the dog had a history of violent or biting behavior. Dog bite victims are eligible for damages when the dog had at sometime prior to the victim’s incident exhibited dangerous behavior, which should have put the dog’s owner on notice as to the dog’s predilection to attack and bite people. Under Georgia law, victims are required to demonstrate that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that he dog is a biter based on the dog’s past conduct.
However, the Georgia Supreme Court by way of a unanimous decision in the case of Steagald et al. v. Eason et al., lowered the bar for dog bite victims by indicating that proof that the dog had a history of snapping, but not necessarily biting, could be enough to convince a jury that the dog’s owner should have known about the dog’s biting tendency. To say this another way, a dog snapping at someone is effectively a bite that missed the mark, or an attempted bite, and is indicative of the dog’s tendency to bite.
The Court found that a dog snapping without provocation is a favorable inference that the dog has a propensity to bite without provocation, and that this is sufficient evidence for a dog bite victim to establish a personal injury claim. Unprovoked snapping, lunging or jumping could all serve as evidence that the dog has a propensity to bite and is violent, which can serve as the notice to the owner that the dog has a violent streak.
Victims Need a Dog Bite Attorney in Atlanta
Dog bite victims know that they need the help of an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney serving Atlanta to file their dog bite claims. An Atlanta dog bite lawyer will help you figure out your best strategy for getting the justice you deserve after a terrifying dog attack. The Angell Law Firm, LLC is able to provide you with the advice and assistance you need to resolve your personal injury claim.