Articles Posted in Dog Bite Injuries

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.

thThe 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.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Georgia you have legal rights.  There may even be an insurance policy available to compensate you for your injuries.  This compensation could cover your medical bills, pain & suffering, and lost wages, as well as other expenses.  Georgia law on dog bite injuries can be confusing so here is some basic info that may help  you.  I am often asked by clients what they should do after they have been bitten by a dog they don’t know.  Obviously the most important step is to seek medical attention immediately.  Once the injured person has been treated the following steps

should be conducted.  The owners of the dog must be identified so that your dog bite attorney can proceed with verifying whether there was an insurance policy in place that covers dog bite injuries.  Also important is to contact animal control and request a copy of the incident report for the bite.  Additionally, a background check on the biting dog should be conducted to identify any prior bites or complaints for the dog.  Often dogs that bite causing injuries have done so in prior incidents.

Georgia’s dog bite law provides two ways a person injured by a dog bite may recover against the dog’s owner.  First the injured person must prove that the animal was dangerous or vicious.  This can be shown by records of prior incidents involving the dog.  Testimony of others who can report they have seen the dog behave in an aggressive manner or demonstrate vicious behavior. In addition to proving the dog was vicious an injured person must prove the owner had the requisite degree of knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensity. Finally, it must be shown that the owner carelessly managed the dog or allowed it to go free without any restraint.  This is generally the easiest element to prove since most dog bite injuries involve dogs that are running free without a leash.

Often in Georgia it becomes easier for a dog bite victim to recover if there was a city ordinance in place that requires  all dogs to  be on a leash as required by the local ordinance and that the owner allowed the dog to go free. In this scenario the dog owner becomes liable to the person who was bitten since the dog owner violated the city ordinance.  Since the owner clearly violated the toe local ordinance the injured person is not required to prove the owner that the owner had knowledge of the dogs viciousness or potential to bite someone.

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