A Dog Bit Me. Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?

A Dog Bit Me. Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?

An animal attack is a frightening event that can result in serious injuries, property damage, and other types of harm. One minute you may be wandering through the park, when, from seemingly nowhere, a large dog leaps onto you and ferociously bites your arm. The owner profusely apologizes and attempts to wrangle the animal, but your arm is now bleeding. The bite ruined the shirt you were wearing, you now have to deal with a hefty medical bill, and you are traumatized by the sudden and unprovoked attack.

In scenarios involving dog bites, you may understandably be wondering if you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit and attempt to recover damages. Unfortunately, in the state of Georgia, the dog owner is only liable for animal attacks under certain conditions. Below, we review Georgia’s dog bites laws and how they impact your right to seek compensation for injuries.

Georgia’s Modified One Bite Rule

Each state enforces its own dog bite and animal attack laws. Many states adhere to a “one bite” rule, in which a dog owner only becomes liable for violent animal behavior if their dog previously bit another person or animal.

Georgia instead adheres to a modified “one bite” rule, but the legal standards are fairly similar. A dog owner in Georgia is liable for a dog bite or any other type of animal attack if they were aware that their dog was vicious.

But what does this mean in practice? If a dog previously bit another person or animal, the dog owner knows the dog exhibits vicious behavior and is therefore liable if the animal bites or attacks someone or something else in the future. A dog may also be considered vicious under the law if they attack a person or animal unprovoked or if the owner is careless in handling them. For example, an owner may be held liable if they failed to keep their violent dog on a leash in a public park, even if they did not know of any prior vicious behavior.

In Georgia, other behaviors that may constitute viciousness for purposes of establishing liability in a dog bite case include:

  • Excessive snarling, growling, or barking
  • Repeated, concerted attempts to escape the owner to attack another person or animal
  • Aggressive charging at people or animals

In other words, if a dog owner should have known their dog was vicious in advance of an attack if the animal frequently attempts to charge at people and repeatedly growls without provocation. In these scenarios, a dog owner may be liable even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.

A dog does not necessarily have to bite a victim to trigger liability. Any type of attack that causes injuries or property damage may result in a dog owner being held liable. For example, a large dog might leap onto a victim, causing them to fall and twist their ankle. Even though no bite occurred, the dog owner may still be liable if they knew (or should have known) the animal was vicious.

In most cases, a dog owner can only be held liable if their animal attacks a victim on public property (such as a park) or private property where the victim had permission to be (such as a residence). It may be more difficult to prove liability if the victim was on private property without permission, as the owner will likely argue that they took reasonable steps to isolate an animal they knew to exhibit vicious behavior. A dog owner will also likely not be held liable if the animal is provoked immediately prior to an attack or bite.

What Should I Do After a Georgia Dog Bite or Attack?

In the immediate aftermath of a dog bite or attack, you should collect the contact information of the dog owner, including their name, address, and phone number. If possible, you should also obtain the contact information of any witnesses. Seek medical attention as soon as you can and follow any treatment plan prescribed by your doctor.

Next, contact a qualified personal injury attorney. Our legal team at Balbo & Gregg, Attorneys at Law, PC can review what happened and determine whether the dog owner is likely to be considered liable under Georgia law. You will have two years to file a dog bite lawsuit, so it is important that you act quickly.

A successful dog bite lawsuit can help you recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Our personal injury lawyers know how to effectively advocate for our clients in dog bite cases. We will work to negotiate an efficient settlement but are prepared to go to court to secure what you are justly owed.

If you are the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, do not hesitate to call (866) 580-3089 or contact us online. We offer free case evaluations.