When it comes to dog bite injuries, each state is different, with its own laws and regulations. In Georgia, the dog owner has a better chance of evading liability than they would in many other states. While other states require just one ground of proof, Georgia requires two. Although this is a bit more challenging for victims of dog bite injuries, it is far from impossible; and the Georgia personal injury attorneys at the Bader Law Firm can help to establish liability.
Primary Methods of Establishing Liability in Georgia Dog Bite Claims
There are two key methods of establishing liability in Georgia dog bite claims. We start by looking into the dog’s history to see if there has been any previous aggressive or harmful behavior, and if the owner knew about it. If we find evidence of this, then we’ll look into how the animal was managed and if the owner was negligent in their management of their dog. If this is the case, then the last step is to prove a causal link between the dog owner’s negligence and the dog bite injury that occurred.
From another angle, we can establish liability by looking into the local leash law ordinances of the county or city where the dog bite occurred. Different local areas have different laws concerning whether dogs have to be on a leash in various environments. Typically, if you are bitten by a dog who is not on a leash in a public area, then you can prove liability. However, it must also be proven that the dog owner was negligent in their management of the animal.
If the dog owner was not careless with the dog, and had the dog on a leash, and you were bitten through your own negligence, then you cannot recover compensation. An example would be if you were harassing the dog or if you were forewarned about getting too close, and did so anyway. If the dog is being adequately controlled on a leash, and you approach the dog, so that you are within reach to get bitten, then you may not have a case. If you approach a dog, to pet it, and the dog owner does not warn you of aggressiveness, assuming that the dog does have a history of aggression, and the owner knows about it and has time to warn you, then you may have a case. Ultimately, the best way to find out if you can prove liability is to discuss the unique nature of your dog bite injury case with a Georgia personal injury attorney.
Compensation Available to Dog Bite Personal Injury Victims
If you can prove liability, then you can recover compensation for your dog bite injuries. This compensation should be enough to cover your past and future associated medical expenses, your lost wages, your lost future earning potential, you pain and suffering, your property damage from torn clothing, etc., and possibly punitive damages. Usually, punitive damages are not factored in, because most dog bite cases are not the result of malicious intent or a tremendous lack of regard for the safety of others. However, if your case did involve such factors, then punitive damages can be awarded as further punishment for the negligence.
Dog Bite Statistics From the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
The statistics concerning dog bites in the United States might surprise you. 2015 saw more than 30 deaths caused by dog bites and attacks, and there are more than 4.5 million dog bites and attacks every year. More than 750 thousand of those involve emergency medical care.
The causes of these dog bites and attacks are mostly attributed to misunderstandings, in which the dog feels threatened or frightened. Some are even caused by simple stress, when the dog is in an unfamiliar situation or environment. Then, there are those that are caused by illness, rough play and over excitement, and actual animal abuse.
Common Mistakes to Avoid After A Dog Bite Injury Occurs
The most common mistakes that people make after a dog bite injury include waiting to see a doctor, leaving the police out of it, failing to keep records of injuries, and pursuing a claim without the advice and guidance of a personal injury lawyer.
It is essential to see a doctor quickly after a dog bite, even if it isn’t an emergency situation. The injury may not appear significant, but the bacteria from the dog’s saliva could cause an infection, which could spread and cause significant health problems. If the dog bite does not break the skin, then this may not be an issue, but if it does, get medical treatment as soon as possible.
Choosing to leave the police out of the situation is also a bad idea. You want to contact either the police or animal control, or both. The dog will need to be checked for illness, and the incident will need to be investigated and documented.
It is also important to keep track of your injuries, with photographs, an injury journal of the event and your treatment and recovery, and an organized collection of medical records.
Finally, if you try to pursue a personal injury claim without the guidance of an attorney, you will likely end up settling your claim for a lot less than what it is worth. Working with a lawyer allows dog bite victims to recover, on average, more than three and half times the settlement value of those who settle their claims without a lawyer.
Children Are the Most Vulnerable Victims of Dog Bites
A large portion of dog bite injuries are sustained by children. This is because children tend to be less experienced about the potential danger, more likely to try to pet or play with a strange dog, more likely to accidentally upset a dog, and more likely to be seriously harmed by the bite because of their smaller size. They may have a harder time escaping from a dog attack or fighting off a dog to minimize the impact, and what might be a small bite on an adult could cover a large portion of a child’s face, arm, or leg, for example.
The best thing that you can do to prevent dog bite injuries for your children is to educate them about dogs, how to approach them, when not to approach them, and how to get away from a dog that might be dangerous. For example, you need to make sure your kids know that not all dogs are kid-friendly, and they should never approach an unknown dog. If you see a dog wandering the neighborhood, this is a good time to bring your kids inside and remind them of the dangers of approaching a dog that you don’t know. Keep in mind that even small dogs can do some serious damage, and even dogs that appear friendly can be dangerous.
It is also important to tell your child that dogs can misunderstand their behavior, and they should not shout at a dog, run towards a dog, or hit a dog. Teach them how to ask permission from the dog’s owner before approaching and attempting to pet or play with it.
You can also teach kids how to recognize a potentially dangerous dog, and how to walk away from a dog who is behaving aggressively. They should walk away quietly and with confidence, and avoid a panicked, screaming, run that might cause the dog to take chase.
Were You or Your Child Bitten By a Dog in Georgia?
Any time you or someone you love is bitten or attacked by a dog in Georgia, you should seek medical treatment quickly, contact the authorities, photograph the injuries, and contact a determined Georgia personal injury attorney. Schedule a free consultation with the Bader Law Firm, today.