Georgia Dog Bite Laws

christopher-ayme-157131-copy-300x200The Georgia Supreme Court decided a case earlier this year that provides a good overview of Georgia dog bite laws. In it, we learn about the different elements that go into a claim for a dog bite in Georgia, and what can and should happen after a person is bit by a dog and incurs serious injury. It is also an important lesson for both dog owners and victims of dog bites alike. If you have been bitten by a dog inGeorgia, seek the assistance of an Atlanta dog bite lawyer right away.

The case Steagald v. Eason, began in 2011 when one neighbor visited another in their backyard. The visiting neighbor approached the dog and extended her arm. Immediately the dog bit her arm. In her attempt to escape, the dog latched onto her leg. Both the arm and leg were badly injured because of the dog bites, and as a result, the victim brought a suit against the owner of the dog, and the property owner who let the dog stay there.

Before the vicious dog bite that ended in a lawsuit, the owner of the dog moved into the home owner’s home, and asked to bring the dog. The homeowners said it would be alright, as long as the dog owner built a pen for the dog, as it was a pit bull. The pen was built, and later on it became evident how aggressive the dog is. He snapped at the homeowner without being provoked, and otherwise barked and acted aggressively. These facts were important in the ultimate lawsuit.

Atlanta Area Dog Bite Laws

As the Georgia Supreme Court explained in its opinion, dog owners can be held liable for the damage their dogs inflict on another. The source of liability comes from both statutory and common (judge made) law. The relevant statute OCGA § 51-2-7, lays out most of the elements needed to prove a successful claim for a dog bite. Those include that an owner can be held liable when:

  • There is a dog attack that causes harm;
  • The owner kept the vicious animal as their own;
  • The owner did not properly restrain the animal;
  • The injury or attack was not provoked by the victim.

In addition to these statutory requirements to prove a dog, there are common law elements to a successful dog bite claim, as well. An experienced dog bite attorney in Atlanta can help you navigate these tricky situations.

The common law elements to Georgia’s dog bite laws are known as the first bite rule. This means that before the owner can be held liable for a dog bite, he or she must first know that the dog or other animal has the propensity to attack and injure another. While it is called the first bite rule, the animal does not have to actually bite someone before the owner knows it is dangerous, but there has to be some evidence of it being an aggressive, dangerous dog.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a dog bite in or around the Atlanta area, you need an Atlanta dog bite lawyer. Contact us at the Angell Law Firm. Dog bite cases are just one of the areas of personal injury law we practice, and and as dog bite attorneys serving Atlanta, we understand what goes into a dog bite case out of this area, and what needs to be done to ensure the victims recovers for the injuries they suffer.

(image courtesy of Christopher Ayme)