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 U.S. 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 bite lawsuits in our state:
Dog Bite Statistics
- According to statistics collected by the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the U.S. Almost 1 in 5 of those bites becomes infected. If a dog bite wound is not treated immediately, the risk of infection is extremely high and can lead to life-threatening complications.
- 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.
- 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. According to one dog bite research group, approximately 74% of all fatal dog attacks between the years 2005 and 2014 were caused by pit bulls and Rottweilers.
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.
Taking Legal Action with an Atlanta Animal Attack Lawyer
If you’ve been injured by an unprovoked dog or other animal in the state of Georgia, you should seek medical attention immediately. Dog bite infections can be dangerous if left untreated. After you receive medical care, consider contacting our Atlanta dog bite attorneys as soon as you can. At Bey & Associates, our team of expert Atlanta personal injury attorneys will be happy to assist you and tell you if filing a dog attack lawsuit is in your best interest.
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.