Dogs are wonderful pets and protective companions, but under some conditions, they are known to attack and bite strangers. Sometimes, this occurs when the animal isn’t conditioned or trained to not attack while unprovoked. Other times, dogs bite when they are not properly restrained or secured in their yard. In both cases, it is the dog owner’s fault when a dog viciously attacks an innocent victim. If you’ve been bit or injured by an unprovoked dog that wasn’t properly restrained, you may be able to take legal action with the help of an Atlanta dog bite lawyer.
Dog owners, like property owners, have a legal duty to keep their dogs from harming others. This can and should take the form of proper training as well as proper restraints if needed. If a dog is allowed in the owner’s front yard and may attack strangers, that yard needs a sturdy, well-built fence that’s high enough to ensure the dog can’t escape as well as posted signs. If the dog is tied up, they must be secure. If the dog is taken out in public, they need to be properly leashed and controlled by their owner.
When dog owners fail this legal duty, they may be able to be held liable for any injuries that the dog is responsible for. In most states, this includes dog bites as well as injuries sustained if a dog were to lunge at a child and knock them over, for example. In many states, this also includes any livestock or pets the dog may attack.
As part of this liability, a victim of a dog bite attack in the state of Georgia can file a lawsuit against the dog owner if the attack was unprovoked. A successful dog bite lawsuit can grant the victim and their family financial compensation that can go towards medical bills, recovery funds, any loss of wage costs, and additional pain and suffering costs. Serious dog bite wounds require a great deal of recovery time and may even need surgery. Oftentimes, insurance isn’t enough to cover the costs of a serious wound.
A successful lawsuit also teaches the guilty dog owner a lesson about pet ownership and the importance of proper animal training and proper dog restraining techniques. We may love our dogs, but we must also take full responsibility of our pets. To do otherwise is simple negligent—and against the law.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an unprovoked dog bite or attack in the state of Georgia, a dog bite attorney in Atlanta who specializes in animal attack claims will know how to ensure the success of your case and that you receive your desired compensation amount.
First, let’s establish some basic facts about dog bites.
Dog Bite Statistics
While one rarely expects a dog bite to occur, these incidents affect many people each year. They can range from minor to severe—and can require going to the emergency room. When a dog attacks, their teeth can break skin, tear tissue underneath and cause other serious injuries.
Unfortunately, children are at the greatest risk for serious dog bite injuries. More than 800,000 individuals require medical treatment every year for dog bite injuries. Almost half of these victims are children.
Children are at risk because of their size and limited knowledge about dealing with animals. They’re smaller and closer to the dog’s height. This means they may sustain facial injuries if a dog attacks. They also may not have the strength for defense. They may be too young to understand that all dogs may not be friendly or that approaching a dog that doesn’t know them can put the animal on guard. These instances can result in the dog feeling defensive and could cause a bite.
Some dog breeds are known to be more aggressive towards strangers than other breeds. These breeds are also often improperly trained which makes them seem more aggressive than other dogs of the same breed that have been properly trained. Between 2005-2019, 521 Americans died from dog bites. Pit bulls and Rottweilers contributed to 397 of these deaths.
While there may be certain dog breeds that have higher bite statistics than others, it’s important to know that any dog can bite, regardless of breed. Some dogs may be more prone to bite than others. If the dog was abused or wasn’t socialized properly, they may react defensively in certain stressful situations.
If you were a victim of a dog bite, you may wonder what the state’s laws are on the matter. Let’s look into the laws about dog bites.
Georgia Dog Attack Laws
Every state has different rules regarding who can file a dog bite claim and under what conditions. In Georgia, we have what’s referred to as the “one-bite rule” which governs when a lawsuit can be filed. This rule states that a dog owner is legally liable for any injuries their dog causes if they know the animal has the potential to bite.
If a dog bites someone in the state of Georgia and punctures skin but does not cause serious wounds, the owner must apply for a certificate of registration as owning a dangerous dog. After this point, the dog is classified as “dangerous” and the owner is liable for any injuries the dog causes if an attack is unprovoked. They also must agree to post warning signs regarding the dog and build a secure enclosure for the animal. This rule also applies to dogs that kill other pets.
If a dog inflicts serious injuries to another human being, that dog becomes classified as “vicious”. The animal must be microchipped and its owner must have at least $50,000 of liability insurance to cover injury costs.
If a dog has not bitten or attacked anyone in the past but is not properly restrained (if they escape from their yard, for example, or are not leashed or at a heel position while on a walk with their owner in an area where leash laws are present), the owner can also be found liable for any injuries that occur.
The statute states the following:
“A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured. In proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash.”
All dog owners in our state have the responsibility to keep their animals from harming innocent adults and children even if they are unsure of whether their dogs will cause injuries. If an owner is unsure of how their dog will react to strangers, they must keep the animal restrained and under control when out in public.
It must also be noted that dog bite victims are not usually able to file a claim against a party if a stray dog attacks them. Municipalities are not liable for stray dogs.
Our dog bite lawyers will know what laws apply to your case. We’ll make sure to protect your rights.
How to Prevent an Attack from a Dog
If you’re ever near someone’s dog, the CDC offers a list of tips on how you should conduct yourself. It’s important to remain calm so they do not feel threatened. Allow the dog to approach you. Stay still and let them smell you so they can get used to you. Before petting anyone’s dog, always ask the owner if it’s okay.
Even if you own a dog, there are times when you shouldn’t bother them. When a dog is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies, give the dog space. They may feel protective over their food or young. If you wake a sleeping dog, they may be startled and snap at whoever is bothering them.
If you see an unfamiliar dog on the loose, do not approach it. Instead, you should call animal control. However, if you encounter an unfamiliar dog and they are approaching you, it’s important to stay calm. Avoid eye contact and turn your body to the side. Direct eye contact and body language can signal to the dog that you’re challenging them. Tell the dog to “go home” or say “no” in a firm voice. Protect you neck with your hands and keep your elbows in. The dog may pass you or you may have an opportunity to slowly walk away.
While there are ways you can possibly prevent situations where a dog would feel the need to bite, sometimes these incidents do happen. Let’s look into what you should do in this scenario.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bites You?
Before an Atlanta dog bite lawyer represents you, it’s important for you to take care of your health first. When a dog bite has occurred, it’s common to feel shock, fear, and you may not know what to do next. If the dog is known and is up to date with vaccinations and the bite isn’t too deep, then you may be able to treat it at home. Follow these steps to see how you should treat a bite.
- Wash the Wound. Dog bites can transfer bacteria which can lead to infections. Cleaning the wound immediately can help prevent infection. Use mild soup and warm water. Take about 5-10 minutes to clean it.
- Apply Pressure. Using a clean cloth, keep firm pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding.
- Dress Wound. If you have antibiotic cream, apply that to the bite before putting a clean bandage on it.
- Seek Medical Attention. While you may be able to treat the wound at home, it’s still a good idea to have it examined by a doctor. They will be able to see if there’s signs of infection or other issues. They may prescribe medication and give you a treatment plan so you can recover as quickly as possible.
Continue to take care of the wound over time. This means regularly changing the bandage and keeping the wound clean. You may want to do this several times a day. If you have questions about care, your doctor will be able to advise you. Stay vigilant for signs of infection like redness, swelling, or fever.
If you do not know the dog, whether they’re a stray or they’re a dog that got loose from their owner, you may not know if the animal has been vaccinated. The biggest concern with this is if the dog has rabies. If left undetected and untreated, rabies is nearly always fatal.
Symptoms of rabies include pain, fatigue, headache, fever, muscle spasms, hallucinations, and more. Animals that have rabies may exhibit strange behaviors as well. After an unknown dog bites you, seek medical treatment immediately. The sooner you’re able to get a medical evaluation, the sooner you can treat anything serious. Once you’re healing, you can start considering your legal options.
Taking Legal Action with an Atlanta Dog Bite Lawyer
If you’ve been injured by an unprovoked dog or other animal in the state of Georgia, you may wonder about whether or not pursuing a dog bite claim is the right move for you. While it can be awkward if you know the owners, you need to prioritize your health. A lawsuit can help you get the compensation you deserve to cover the financial and emotional losses of the attack.
Contact our Atlanta dog bite attorneys as soon as you can. At Bey & Associates, our team of expert attorneys will be happy to assist you and tell you if filing a dog attack lawsuit is in your best interests.
Our Atlanta legal team has handled hundreds of cases just like yours and knows how to get you the compensation you need to recover from an injury that should not have occurred. Dog owners need to learn how to properly take care of their pets. Sometimes lawsuits speak louder than words. Give our office a call today to learn more.