Despite the saying “a dog is a man’s best friend,” millions of people suffer from dog bites every year, according to the American Veterinary Association. Nearly 30,000 victims require reconstructive surgery to repair the damage of a canine attack.
If you are a resident of Atlanta and have suffered injuries or trauma due to a dog bite, you might have a claim for damages against the dog’s owner or handler. Contact a well-informed injury attorney as soon as possible for consultation. An Atlanta dog bite lawyer could advise you on whether you can receive compensation for your injuries and may help you achieve peace of mind in the aftermath of this traumatic event.
Many states have laws that hold owners responsible for damages their pets cause, including dog bites. In Georgia, an owner is liable for dog bites in certain conditions under the Responsible Dog Owner Act.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 4-8-21 permits dog owners to own only one dog classified as dangerous or vicious. A dangerous dog is one that has broken skin with its teeth, although nips and scratches are not sufficient to designate a dog as dangerous. An aggressive attack that does not result in injury may also earn a dog the designation of “dangerous.”
Dogs may be classified as vicious if they cause someone a serious injury. Under this law, serious injuries include:
If the person who was bitten did not provoke the attack, the owner of a vicious or dangerous dog may be liable for the victim’s damages. O.C.G.A § 51-2-7 considers a dog to be “vicious” if it is not under the control of its owner in a locality that requires dogs to be leashed or controlled. The owner must carry $50,000 of liability insurance to cover any injuries a dangerous or vicious dog might cause.
The City of Atlanta’s Municipal Code requires that animals, including dogs, be at heel or on a leash under the owner’s control when off of the owner’s premises and within the confines of the city. This law obligates dog owners to supervise and control their dogs’ movements and activities at all times.
Failure to control a dog can be a violation of Atlanta law. A local attorney could use this violation to demonstrate that a dog is “vicious” under the definition provided by Georgia statutes regarding dog bites. This would make the owner liable for damages to the injured person.
Georgia requires individuals to file personal injury claims within two years of the incident that led to the injury. This may seem like a long time, but the longer a claimant waits, the more difficult it becomes to present a strong case.
An attorney will want access to all available evidence for a personal injury claim. When a victim waits to contact a legal professional, it becomes harder to obtain the necessary evidence and witness testimonies. Victims should consult with an attorney in the community as soon as possible following a dog attack.
Dog bite victims may be tempted to negotiate directly with a dog owner or their insurance company, especially when the dog or its owner was known to the victim before the incident. No one wants to be involved in legal proceedings with a friend or neighbor.
To ensure that personal considerations are not a factor in the settlement, allow an experienced attorney to handle your case. A legal advocate could guide you through difficult and delicate negotiations and may also increase your chances of fair compensation. If you have suffered injuries in a canine attack, consult an Atlanta dog bite lawyer for a complimentary case review.