Undeniably, dogs are the most popular pets in the US, with over 63 million (53%) of households owning at least one canine. They are cute, loyal, and very lovable animals. However, we can’t overlook the fact that they can also be dangerous.
A dog bite can be incredibly terrifying, traumatizing, and painful. And sadly, severe and even fatal injuries do occur from dog bites. You may have to undergo extensive and long-term medical treatment, stay out of work for prolonged periods, and deal with other problems resulting from your injuries.
While Georgia laws on dog bites allow you to hold the dog owner liable for injuries and losses caused, certain conditions have to be met and you have to bear the burden of proving liability. This makes seeking compensation quite complicated.
As an experienced Smyrna dog bite lawyer, Jamie Ballard has a deep understanding of the current dog bite laws and is prepared to fight for your rights. Jamie Ballard Law will help you build a strong case proving the owner’s liability and ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact us today at 571-331-2381 to discuss your case with a skilled Smyrna personal injury lawyer.
What Should I Do if I Was Bitten by a Dog?
A dog attack can leave you scared, confused, and in extreme pain. However, there are some crucial steps that you need to take immediately after to protect yourself legally and also your health.
Try to Identify the Animal
After suffering a dog bite, your first step, if your condition allows you, should be to gather information about the dog including its breed, color, size, and crucial details such as whether it was restrained or leashed. Also, try to identify the owner and get their names, contact details, and insurance information.
Record the Scene
Gathering photographic and video evidence at the scene will prove to be very useful later on when proving your claims. Take photos of the dog and any visible injuries you may have suffered. If the dog is acting aggressively or violently, take videos to help prove the owner’s knowledge of its violent tendencies. Also, talk to any available witnesses and collect their names, contacts, and statements.
Report the Incident
You need to report the incident to law enforcement as soon as possible. The police will conduct an investigation, cite the owner (if necessary), and file an official report. You’ll also want to contact the local animal control agency. They will help you identify the owner (if unavailable), determine whether the dog is up to date with its vaccines, and provide the dog’s history which can help prove your case.
Seek Medical Treatment
It is utterly important that you seek medical attention as soon as you leave the scene even if the injury is seemingly minor and non-painful. This is especially so if you are unsure whether the dog was vaccinated or potentially infectious. Seeking medical treatment will also ensure that your injuries are documented by a licensed medical practitioner.
Contact a Dog Bite Attorney
To help you navigate the complexities of a dog bite personal injury claim and maximize your compensation, you need to have an experienced Smyrna dog bite lawyer on your site. You should never underestimate the value of your claim. An attorney will draw on their knowledge of the law, experience, and vast resources to ensure the best outcome for you.
Who Do I Report a Dog Bite to in the State of Georgia?
First, it is important to note that you are not legally required to report a dog bite, however, it is in your best interests that you do so. Make sure to call the police immediately after a dog bite and file a report. They will conduct an investigation, help to restrain the animal, and identify the owner.
You also need to contact animal control, especially if the bite has broken the skin, to determine whether it is vaccinated against rabies.
Why Should I Hire a Smyrna Dog Bite Lawyer?
Dog bite laws are quite complicated and tend to vary from state to state. Trying to decipher the complex legal codes and insurance policies while still dealing with serious injuries can be a very difficult endeavor. An experienced Smyrna dog bite lawyer can help ease the claims process and help you focus on your recovery. Here’s how our team at Jamie Ballard Law can help:
Investigating the Accident
We will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, gathering crucial evidence to build a strong case for you. We will seek to obtain the dog’s history, records, and other important information about the dog from the relevant authorities. We will also gather your medical documents, employment records, and other details to prove your claims. We may also bring in expert witnesses to support your claim.
Our team will prepare your case as if going to trial. With solid evidence and strong arguments, we will be able to negotiate from a position of strength. Keep in mind that insurance companies hate fighting cases in court, especially those they are likely to lose. All this will motivate them to present a favorable settlement offer.
Filing the Case
Dog bite personal injury claims involve a lot of paperwork and deadlines. An attorney will ensure that everything is filed properly and on time.
If settlement negotiations fail, we will prepare your case for trial. Our attorneys will provide you with effective legal representation in court.
Who Is Responsible for Dog Bite Injuries?
Under Georgia State Law, a dog owner can be held responsible if their dog causes serious injuries to other people or animals. In this context, a dog owner is the individual who possesses, harbors, or has custody of the dog, which means that a pet-sitter, groomer, or veterinarian can be also be held legally liable if a dog bite occurs while the dog is under their care.
However, for a dog owner to be held liable for a dog bite in Georgia, the following elements must be proved:
- The dog is/was dangerous.
- The dog owner was careless in handling the dog or let it roam “at liberty,” thus leading to the injury.
- The attack was unprovoked.
What Type of Compensation Can I Expect in a Dog Bite Case?
Georgia dog bite law allows you to seek financial compensation for damages caused by a dog bite. These damages are grouped into three categories:
This type of compensation is designed to reimburse you for monetary losses. These include past and future medical bills (including doctor appointments, medications, medical equipment, surgery, reconstructive surgery, physical therapy, etc), lost wages, loss of earning capacity, home and car modifications, and property damage.
You can also seek compensation for non-monetary damages including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of limbs, and so on.
This type of damages is awarded in cases where the dog owners’ actions are deemed to be grossly negligent, intentional, or malicious. There is a cap on punitive damages at $250,000.
What Does Georgia Law Say About Dog Bites?
Georgia’s dog bite laws are contained in GA Code Title 51, Chapter 2 Sections 6 and 7. According to Section 6, a dog owner will be held liable for all costs incurred following a dog bite that kills or injures any livestock. Section 7 states that a dog owner or an owner of any vicious animal will be held liable for injuries caused to other individuals in an unprovoked attack.
Georgia has a modified one bite rule, which provides that for a dog owner to be held liable, the victim must prove that the dog owner knew or should have reasonably known that the dog had violent tendencies.
In cities where there is an ordinance requiring dog owners to put their dogs on a leash, the dog owner can be held liable for a dog bite that occurs while the dog is unleashed, even if the owner had no prior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous behavior.
Georgia defines a dangerous dog as one that has:
- Displayed behavior that is aggressive enough for any reasonable person to presume that it is a bite risk.
- Previously bitten someone puncturing the skin but did not cause severe injury.
- Killed another pet, not within the owner’s property.
Vicious dogs are defined as those that have previously:
- Caused serious injury to a person.
- Caused serious injury to a person reasonably attempting to escape the dog’s attack.
Statistics About Dog Bite Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 4.5 million people in the United States suffer dog bites each year. Of these, more than 800, 000 require medical attention with about 1,000 victims ending up in the emergency room. It is estimated that 50% of all dog bites involve children. Seniors and postal service carriers follow closely.
In terms of fatalities, the CDC reports that the average number of deaths resulting from dog bites is 16 per year.
Are There Time Limits for Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for dog bite personal injury cases in Georgia is two years from the date of the injury. Once this period lapses, you risk permanently losing your right to pursue compensation.
Get in Touch With an Experienced Smyrna Dog Bite Lawyer Today!
A dog bite can result in serious injuries requiring long-term treatment. You may also be left dealing with severe mental and emotional difficulties. Jamie Ballard is a committed and highly-skilled dog bite lawyer who is ready to help you get the financial compensation you need to pay for your increasing medical bills, lost income, and other damages you are entitled to you may not be aware of.