The Georgia Dog Bite Guide was created by The Gunnels Law Firm to help injured residents obtain maximum compensation. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
When a dog is in the right home and trained well, they can truly be a great companion, but if you have found your way to this page, odds are you have not interacted with a good dog. When dogs are abused, untrained, or aggressive, they can become vicious and dangerous, leading to some terrible situations. Dog bites are, unfortunately, highly common in Georgia and they can cause some serious permanent damage. If you or your child has been seriously hurt by someone’s dog, then you may be eligible for compensation through the dog owner’s insurance company. You deserve to get the most out of your case, and we will do everything possible to get that for you. After you read up about your case, please call our office to set up a free initial case evaluation.
Georgia Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
Your “statute of limitations” is the amount of time in which you get to bring your lawsuit or have it settled in civil court. Each state in the country has slightly different laws regarding their statute of limitations. Georgia allows for victims of dog bites to have two years from the date of their incident to bring their case to your civil court. If you attempt to file your claim after your statute of limitations has passed, you will be denied compensation. You need to make sure that you are hiring an attorney right away to help make sure you are ready to bring your claim on time. The sooner you get to an attorney, the more time they will have to build you a strong case. We highly encourage you to call a Georgia dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
How a Dog Bite Injury Case Works
In order to successfully bring a case against a dog owner, you have to prove that they knew that their dog had a propensity to attack. Georgia is a negligence state, meaning that your case rides on the fact that you have to prove that there was negligence involved that lead to your dog bite. That dog owner would have had to have knowledge that their dog might hurt someone and they would have had to been careless about protecting people from their dog. For example, if someone has a dangerous dog and has neglected to put a proper gate lock on their gate to keep their dog in their yard and that animal comes and attacks you, they would be held responsible for your injuries.
First Steps for a Successful Dog Bite Case
To have a successful and lucrative dog bite case, you need to do a few things. You want to be sure that you have as much evidence from the scene of the accident as possible. Because Georgia is a negligence state, having evidence to prove that the dog owner was negligent will be the most valuable thing you can have. When you have photos and videos of the scene, the dog, the owner, and your injuries, it will be able to tell a story that may be able to help you more than you can imagine. Getting the authorities on the scene and animal control will be helpful for you as well because they can officially document the incident, get records on the dog, and make sure that it is up to date on its shots and vaccinations. Last, you want to protect yourself form the insurance company who represents the liable party (being the dog owner). They have a mission to keep you from getting full compensation so it is very important to let your Georgia dog bite lawyer take over all communications with the insurance company.
Most Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries
As mentioned, dog attacks have the potential to cause permanent damage. When a dog attacks, they can cause a number of injuries. You should always check to see if the dog is up on their rabies vaccinations and has had all necessary shots so that you know if you are at risk for infection. The most common types of dog bite injuries include damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves which might affect you for the rest of your life. You may have scarring and disfigurement permanently as well. Other common injuries include broken or fractured bones from falling if the dog takes you down, infection from the dog, and lacerations.
Frequently Asked Dog Bite Questions
How Do I Find the Right Attorney?
Dog bite cases require specialized knowledge and attention, and you always have to make sure that you have an attorney who has experience handling these cases all the way to a conclusion and has consistently received good resolutions. These cases involve unique statutes and laws, which needs to be applied, along with the evidence that’s gathered, in a specific way to put your case in the best possible light.
Another thing to keep in mind when looking for an attorney to handle a dog bite case is to make sure that your attorney knows the ins and outs of how the insurance system works. Insurance companies have their own way of doing things and it’s important to know what motivates them internally. Before beginning to represent individuals in personal injury claims, I spent years representing insurance companies. Now, I am able to take that knowledge and put it to use for people who have been injured by the carelessness of others.
Finally, it’s important to make sure that you have an attorney that insurance companies know will take cases through to trial. When it comes time to resolve cases, the attorneys who will not try cases do not get the best settlement offers. Most cases settle before trial, but some cases require prosecution all the way through to a jury in order to receive a reasonable and fair resolution. At the Gunnels Law Firm, we spend a significant amount of our time in trial, and we know how the system works and how to position cases to get the best possible verdicts for our clients.
How Much Will My Case Be Worth?
When we encounter clients who have been bit by dogs and injured, one of the first things they want to know from us is what the value of their case is. However, at the beginning of a case, you can’t determine the value because you don’t know the extent of the injuries. The first thing that needs to happen in order to determine the value of a case is to know whether you’re going to fully recover or whether your injuries are going to be permanent. For instance, in a dog bite case, if you are bitten and you only need a couple stitches, that’s not going to have a lot of value. Conversely, if you suffer permanent scarring, that case is worth a lot more because those injuries will never go away. However, you can’t evaluate this until you’ve gone through all of your medical treatment.
In any type of personal injury case, you are entitled to special damages, which consists of medical expenses and lost wages. These are relatively easy to calculate. The hard part is calculating the things known as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and disruption of life. The severity to which you’ve been impacted drives the value of the compensation.
Another thing that you have to keep in mind is where that money to compensate you comes from. In the instance of a dog bite case, it’s generally the homeowner’s insurance of the dog owner. We have to look into how much insurance they have, or if they have any personal assets.
Do I Need to Have a Lot of Medical Bills to File a Claim?
When people come in to see us over dog bite claims, one of the things that they want to know is if there’s a minimum amount of medical expenses that are necessary in order to sustain a viable claim. These cases tend to be more dependent on the types of injuries rather than the medical expenses. For example, if you suffer permanent scarring, you may not have a lot of medical bills, but your claim will be worth more due to the long-term impacts of the injury. Likewise, if you sustained significant medical expenses but were found to have provoked the dog into attacking you, you won’t be able to recover much compensation. The best thing to do is evaluate the injuries and their permanency rather than simply the medical expenses.
How Long Will This Case Take to Settle?
When we have clients who have been injured by dog bites, one of the first things they want to know is how long it’s going to take to resolve their case. This is very hard to know initially because all cases are different. However, dog bite cases usually tend to take longer than your general motor vehicle collision case because they are more fact-intensive and require a lot more discovery into what actually happened. Evidence is very important in these types of cases.
During the discovery process, we will have to find out if the dog had a propensity or history of attacking people before, along with if the owner had taken any measures to stop it. Those things take time to learn and figure out, and these are not the types of cases that often settle before filing a lawsuit. If the lawsuit cannot be resolved by the two parties, then the case may need to be tried in front of a jury.
I think a reasonable amount of time to expect for a dog bite case is somewhere between one and three years after the lawsuit has been filed. In Georgia, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the incident. Typically, injuries sustained in a dog bite case are not as significant as a motor vehicle collision, and so the treatment process if faster. We can often file a lawsuit well before the statute of limitations expires.
Should I Give a Recorded Statement About the Incident?
We are often asked whether a person who has been injured by a dog bite should give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the person who owned the dog. We strongly recommend that you do not do this. The insurance company will use a trained claims examiner who will ask you questions in a way that leads to vague answers and misleading statements, which will later be used against you. Don’t give them the opportunity to do this. You don’t have any obligation to give a recorded statement, and there’s nothing to be gained from doing so.
Contact Our Office Today for a Free Consultation
If you or your child has been bitten by a vicious dog and has been badly injured, please do not hesitate to call our office to set up a free consultation. We will do everything in our power to make your case as strong as possible. Your injuries and damages deserve full and fair compensation and we have the knowledge to get that for you. Our Atlanta dog bite lawyer can guide you through this legal situation to get you the best possible result.