Dog bites can result in serious injuries, emotional distress, and costly medical bills. In Georgia, dog bite victims may be able to seek compensation for their damages under the state’s strict liability law. Under this law, a dog owner is liable for any injuries their dog causes, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
Georgia’s strict liability law for dog bites is contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) section 51-2-7. This law states that “the owner of a vicious or dangerous animal 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.”
What is considered a “vicious or dangerous” animal under the law?
The law does not provide a clear definition of what constitutes a “vicious or dangerous” animal. However, courts have generally held that any animal that has previously bitten or attacked someone or has a known history of aggression can be considered “vicious or dangerous” under the law. The owner of such an animal is responsible for any injuries the animal causes, even if the owner had no reason to believe the animal would attack.
What should you do if you are bitten by a dog in Georgia?
If you are bitten by a dog in Georgia, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Even if the wound does not appear serious, dog bites can lead to infections and other complications. You should also report the bite to the local animal control agency or police department as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that the dog is properly quarantined and tested for rabies.
If you are considering filing a dog bite claim in Georgia, it is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal process. Your attorney can help you gather evidence, negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company, and represent you in court if necessary.
What are the defenses available to dog owners in Georgia?
While Georgia’s strict liability law for dog bites places responsibility on the owner of the dog, there are a few defenses that the owner can raise to avoid liability. These defenses include:
- Trespassing: If the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the attack, the owner may be able to avoid liability under the law.
- Provocation: If the victim provoked the dog into attacking them, the owner may be able to argue that the victim was partially responsible for their injuries.
- Assumption of Risk: If the victim knew the dog was dangerous or had previously attacked someone, they may have assumed the risk of being bitten and may not be able to recover damages.
It is important to note that these defenses can be difficult to prove in court, and a skilled personal injury attorney can help you navigate them.
What damages can you recover in a dog bite claim in Georgia?
If you are successful in your dog bite claim in Georgia, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills, doctor visits, and rehabilitation costs.
- Lost wages or income if you are unable to work due to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress, physical pain, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Property damage, such as damage to clothing or other personal items.
- Punitive damages in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm.
Georgia’s strict liability law for dog bites can provide an avenue for victims to recover compensation for their damages. If you have been bitten by a dog in Georgia, it is important to seek medical attention, report the incident to the appropriate authorities, and work with an experienced personal injury attorney to pursue your claim. With the help of legal counsel, you can hold the dog owner accountable for their negligence and recover the damages you are entitled to under the law.
If you have been bitten by a dog in Georgia, we at The Gunnels Law Firm LLC can help you navigate Georgia’s strict liability law and seek compensation for your damages. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to represent you effectively and will work to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our team will evaluate your case, negotiate with the insurance company, represent you in court if necessary, provide support and guidance, and work to maximize your compensation.
At The Gunnels Law Firm LLC, we understand that the aftermath of a dog bite can be overwhelming and stressful. We are here to provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate the legal process and recover from your injuries. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help with your dog bite claim in Georgia.