Are dogs man’s best friends? Our Atlanta dog bite lawyer knows this is not always true, especially when a dog owner has failed to train a dog, or keep a vicious animal from roaming freely in the neighborhood. A dog attack can leave a child severely injured, permanently scarred, both physically and mentally, or fatally wounded. Although adults can be the victims of a dog attack, children are at higher risk of serious or fatal injuries.
Children are naturally attracted to animals, and do not know the importance of being careful around dogs. A child may rush up to a dog, startle it, and be bitten. The smaller stature of a child allows the dog access to the head, neck and upper body of a child more easily than an adult, and bites on the face, scalp, neck, upper arms and torso are extremely dangerous.
Georgia Dog Attack Law
Under Georgia law a dog owner can be liable for injuries caused by a dog attack or bite. The Legislature passed a law that establishes 2 elements- proof that the animal is “vicious” or “dangerous,” which can be shown simply by a government ordinance requiring dogs to be at heel or leashed, and proof that there was careless management which allowed the dog to go at liberty. Under our law the injured victim cannot recover damages if he or she provoked the attack.
The statute states:
- (Georgia Statute O.C.G.A. 51-2-7 (2010), Liability of Owner or Keeper of Vicious or Dangerous Animal for Injuries Caused by Animal.)
Leash Law and “First Bite” Rule Explained by Our Atlanta Dog Attack Lawyer
The statute provides a mechanism for identifying a dog as vicious even if it has no history of vicious behavior. If the biting dog was required to be at heel or under leash, and was not so restrained at the time of the incident then that is enough to establish that the dog was vicious. If a dog bite occurs in a jurisdiction that does not have a leash law requiring such restrain there may still be a case, but you have to prove that the dog owner had reason to know that the dog was vicious- that is, that it had the propensity to attack or bite and cause the exact injury which it caused in your case. This is known as the “first bite” rule, meaning the owner is not liable if the dog had not previously bitten someone or exhibited similar behavior. It is not enough that a dog barked aggressively- that characteristic is not enough to establish that an owner knew that dog would also bite someone.
In a case involving a child who rushes toward a dog, the pet’s owner may still be liable for any injuries if he or she failed to keep the dog at heel or on a leash. Issues surrounding whether the attack was provoked by the child, or if the owner held the ultimate responsibility, may have to be resolved in court, and the victim may need to file a lawsuit in order to get justice and monetary compensation for damages caused by the attack. Each case must be evaluated on the individual facts so early investigation is essential.
Atlanta Dog Bite Lawyers for a Dog Bite Lawsuit
At James M. Poe, P.C., we represent injured children in dog bite injury cases, and we have over 40 years of experience in personal injury law. As Georgia dog bite lawyers with extensive trial experience, we can build a compelling case to present to a jury in a dog bite injury case.
Some of the important issues that our firm will investigate when handling a dog bite lawsuit include:
- Was the dog restrained?
- Was the dog confined?
- Was the dog specifically trained to attack intruders?
- Had the dog bitten anyone in the past?
- Was the owner aware of the vicious tendencies of an animal?
- Are there witnesses to the attack who can provide important eyewitness testimony?
- Are there neighbors who can provide testimony about past history of this animal?
- Was the child seriously injured?
- Did the attack occur in a public area or on private property?
Contact Our Atlanta Dog Bite Attorney
Contact our firm today if your child has been the victim of a vicious animal attack. We can advise you of your legal rights, and on reviewing the facts in your case, move forward with an insurance claim or lawsuit filed against the dog’s owner or keeper.
We advocate for injured children, and take this duty very seriously. Find out more by connecting with us today. We are ready to help you immediately.