Liability for Dog Attacks in Atlanta

christopher-ayme-157131-copy-300x200Dogs are everywhere we turn. More and more we must all become accustomed to seeing and interacting with dogs in places where that was not necessarily the situation in years past. We should be aware of our surroundings at all times, and take extra caution in the presence of a strange or aggressive dog. The increased presence of dogs in public life has some benefits and risks. One of those risks is the increased likelihood of being bitten or attacked by a dog. Anytime this happens in Atlanta, the victim should immediately reach out to a qualified Atlanta dog bite lawyer for help with filing a personal injury claim.

Dog on a Leash?

What happens when a dog is on a leash and bites or attacks someone, according to Georgia law? Will the owner be held liable for the resulting damages? The answer to this question can be complicated, and requires the expertise of an Atlanta dog bite lawyer to ascertain the nature of the case, and what steps a victim should take going forward.

Determining if a dog owner is liable for a dog bite when his or her dog was on a leash can be complicated because of the complicated nature of Georgia dog bite laws. Under the law in Georgia, an owner will be held liable for a dog’s attack when:

  • The dog is carelessly managed in way that leads to an attack; or,
  • The owner does not keep the dog on a leash or at heel as required by local county or city ordinance.

Under these situations, a dog owner will be held liable for the injuries his or her dog causes to a victim.

A Question for the Jury

A case addressing these issues was recently decided in a Georgia court of appeals. In that case, Myers v. Ogden, the court was tasked with answering whether an owner could be held liable when he or she had a dog on a two-foot leash before it attacked a victim. At the lower court level, a judge ruled that the owner was liable because the dog attacked the victim. According to the judge, this meant that the owner was not keeping control of the dog, and should therefore be held liable for the damage caused.

The court of appeals, however, disagreed with the judge and sent the case back. Under the county ordinances where the attached happened, the owner was only required to keep the dog on a leash six feet long (or shorter) and be able to physically restrain the dog. In this case both those scenarios were met, and the dog still attacked the victim. The court ruled that it was therefore a jury question as to whether the dog’s owner was acting carelessly with the dog and should therefore be responsible for the damage he caused.

Your Dog Bite Attorney in Atlanta

As you can see from the case above, not every dog bite incident is a clear case of a victim being compensated by the owner. The laws involving dog bites in Georgia are quite complex, and have years and years of interpretive court rulings saying what the law is. That is why anyone victimized by a dog should contact a dog bite attorney in Atlanta to understand what his or her options are. If you are the victim of a dog bite in Atlanta, contact us at The Angell Law Firm.

(image courtesy of Christopher Ayme)