No, Georgia does not have a one-bite rule, which holds a dog’s owner responsible for injuries caused by the dog if it has previously bitten someone. But you may still be able to seek compensation for your dog bite injuries in many situations under Georgia laws about dog bites. Georgia’s Responsible Dog Owner Act states that dog owners can be held responsible for any “serious” injury caused by their dog.
For this law, “ownership” of the dog includes anyone who keeps or harbors a dog. What does this mean? If a dog bites you and the person with them says, “Sorry, I’m just dog-sitting,” they can still be held liable.
How Can You Get Justice Without a Georgia One Bite Rule?
If the dog bit you while in a public area where dogs are required to be at heel or on a leash, and it was not at heel or on a leash, the owner will usually be found liable. You may need to prove where the dog was and that it was unleashed, not at heel. If possible, try to get the names and contact info of any witnesses to the attack.
However, we understand that sometimes dog bite victims can’t stop to ask for contact info because they’re running away from the dog or urgently need medical attention. If this is the case, we’ll assign an investigator to look into your dog bite case and try to locate potential witnesses and/or doorbell or traffic camera video of the attack. Video evidence is often erased frequently, and memories can fade with time, so the sooner you call a lawyer about your dog bite, the better.
You must also prove that you did not “provoke” the dog. Provocation includes yelling at or taunting the dog, taking its water or food dishes, kicking or hitting the dog, or trying to take its puppies. The dog’s owner may claim provocation because they don’t want to be liable for your injuries, but our team will work hard to prove you were attacked unprovoked.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Georgia Dog Bite Laws?
Dogs can be considered “vicious” due to the owner’s carelessness in letting them off-leash in violation of local laws, but they can also be deemed vicious if they have previously bitten someone else. If we can find evidence of a previous bite, we may be able to demonstrate that the owner knew the dog was dangerous and should have taken steps to keep it away from others (keeping it inside, putting up a fence, etc.). In this situation, the owner would be liable for your medical bills and other damages related to the bite.
A previous bite isn’t the only sign of aggression in dogs. In some situations, we may be able to use the following behaviors as evidence the dog was dangerous, and the owner should have known:
The dog was known to charge at people or animals.
The dog had a history of solid growling or snarling.
The dog barked aggressively. (This one can be difficult because most dogs bark sometimes, so you must show that the barking was highly aggressive.)
The dog strained at the lead or tried to escape the owner to attack another person or animal.
What If You Know the Dog’s Owner and Don’t Want to Sue Them?
Sometimes people tell us they don’t want to sue the dog’s owner because this person is a friend or neighbor, and they don’t want to sour the relationship. You should still speak with a lawyer, even if this is the case. We can often work things out with the dog’s owner or insurer without going to court. In some cases, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance will cover medical expenses and other damages from the dog bite. In other situations without insurance coverage, we may be able to negotiate with the owner and come to an agreement for a reasonable amount of compensation. Although we’re always prepared to fight for our clients’ rights in court, we also know that court cases can be financially and emotionally stressful, and we want to make things as easy as possible for our clients. So we always try to settle out of court if possible.
Another common concern is, “I think it was my fault the dog bit me..” As we discussed above, the owner may not be liable if their dog was deliberately provoked. But most people who tell us the bite was their fault didn’t do anything that constitutes provocation. They may have been reaching for food or a drink or giving the dog a gentle pat on the head when the dog attacked. These actions are not provocation. We strongly urge you not to tell the dog’s owner or anyone else that you think the bite was your fault until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
What If You Can’t Find the Dog or Its Owner?
If you were attacked by an unknown dog and received medical attention, chances are the healthcare staff contacted your local Animal Control office about it, and you gave a statement. Animal Control will always attempt to find a vicious dog but may not always be successful. If you’re in a heavily populated area like Atlanta, they are probably busy with multiple reports of animal difficulties and don’t have a lot of time to spend looking for one dog. If they locate the animal, and it doesn’t have identification (collar, tags, a microchip), they may assume it’s a stray. As a result, many people think they can’t get justice because the dog or its owner hasn’t been found.
However, our investigative team will return to the scene of your attack and knock on doors in an effort to locate witnesses. Sometimes we meet a person who recognizes the dog’s description and knows who it belongs to. If so, we may be able to find the owner and hold them responsible for their dog’s actions.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Dog bites can prove painful and cause long-term problems like scarring, infections, and in extreme cases, permanent disability and/or chronic pain. If you’ve been bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog, please get medical attention right away. Then contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation to learn your options for getting your medical bills and other damages paid. Attorney Ali Awad and his dedicated team will work to locate the dog and its owner, determine if there are any applicable insurance policies, and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
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Frequently Asked Questions
After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!
To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
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