Animal bites can be some of the most serious injuries we see at Dermer Appel Ruder. Together, our Gwinnett County animal bite lawyers have more than 80 years of experience working directly with the insurance industry. We’ve represented an enormous range of personal injury clients in our years in the business. Dog bites and animal attacks can leave catastrophic psychological and emotional damage. Luckily, we have the power and prowess to achieve excellent results even in the most complex cases.
In 2017, three Georgians died in violent dog attacks. One of these cases, involving a deceased six-year-old and a critically injured five-year-old in Atlanta, made national news. Dog bites are no small matter. They can cause serious and fatal injuries to the skull and brain, puncture wounds, lacerations, broken bones, and severe bleeding.
Hundreds of people in the state suffered wounds that required emergency medical care from animal attacks. Dogs aren’t the only perpetrators – cats, rodents, and other pets can also cause bite injuries. It is generally up to the pet owner to reasonably prevent attacks. In Georgia, a dog owner will be liable for bite damages if the owner knew or should have known about the animal’s propensity for violence.
Also called the “one-bite rule,” Georgia’s law holds that the owner is responsible if he/she negligently failed to prevent an attack after having reason to suspect violent propensities. For example, if the dog had previously bitten someone, attacked a domestic animal, chased someone, or jumped on someone, the owner must then take steps to prevent such an issue from occurring again. Otherwise, he or she will be liable for damages.
Georgia has relatively a lot of dangerous dog breed ordinances compared to other states, most of which relate to pit bulls. On top of laws determining which dogs are “dangerous,” Georgia also has a “Responsible Dog Ownership Law.” This law requires owners of dangerous dogs to register their pets with the county, as well as to carry $50,000 in liability insurance in the event of an attack. It is a misdemeanor not to obey this law while in possession of a dangerous dog.
Most counties in Georgia have enacted leash laws, requiring dog owners to keep their pets leash-curbed always, unless in a designated off-leash area (such as an enclosed dog park). Dogs must also be under voice control if owners let them off-leash in appropriate areas. When at home, a fence or other barrier must keep dogs safely confined on the property. Failure to confine dogs safely to a property could result in animal control impounding them. For more information on these laws, contact the Gwinnett County animal bite attorneys at Dermer Appel Ruder, LLC.
The owner of the dog that bit you will be liable for your injuries and/or property damages if the owner knew about the dog’s viciousness but failed to prevent the attack. Under Georgia’s one-bite rule, this is the only way you can hold the pet owner responsible. If the owner had no reason to suspect the attack would occur, the courts might not hold him/her responsible for what happened.
If someone other than the pet owner had control over the dog at the time of the bite, this party could be liable for damages. The same is true if someone else’s negligence – such as a fence repair person who leaves a board loose – contributed to the accident. The person or entity most responsible for causing the dog bite will be liable for damages. A property owner could also share responsibility in some cases. You can recover damages even if you were partially responsible for the incident (i.e., you were provoking the dog) in Georgia. Find out what your case could be worth – contact our Gwinnett County Animal Bite lawyers today. Serving Atlanta and all surrounding areas!