Dog bites occur for a wide range of reasons. In some instances, dominance, fear, and territorial instincts kick in resulting in an attack. Other times, a dog bite may be completely unprovoked. The majority of times a dog bite is a reaction to a certain situation. If a dog finds itself in a stressful scenario, it may bite to defend itself, its family, or territory. Animals may also develop aggressive tendencies when ill or injured. If a dog is sore or not feeling well, a bite may be the animal telling you to leave it alone.
Dog bite statute is highly liberal in the state of Georgia, meaning the law often favors dog bite victims. Under Georgia O.C.G.A. Section 51-2-6 – Dogs, Liability of Owner or Keeper – the statute reads:
“This Georgia statute represents the state’s relevant dog bite strict liability law. While the law imposes strict liability for injury to a person, the dog (or other animal) must first be considered “vicious” or “dangerous,” which can be as simple as showing the animal was required to be leashed per city ordinance. This means that, in many instances, if you were bitten by a dog, and you were not trespassing or provoking the dog, the owner’s home or rental insurance is liable for your medical bills, wage loss, and meritorious pain and suffering claim. “Dog bite” covers the actual dog bite as well as covering some dog tripping and chasing if they cause injury.”
In Georgia, the owner of the animal is considered liable for any damages that occur due to a pet’s behavior. Pet owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dogs are well-trained and socialized to minimize the risk of dog bite injuries. This includes keeping up with all canine vaccinations and properly restraining the animal while outdoors.
One out of every five dog bites causes an injury that requires medical attention. Due to the nature of the injury, animal bites often require treatment by a medical professional. This is especially true if the dog that bit you is unfamiliar and you do not know whether or not it has been properly vaccinated. When a dog bites, it usually creates a puncture wound. Bacteria in the mouth enters the wound creating infections that need to be treated by antibiotics. The most common signs of infection include redness, warmth, pus, and swelling.
If a dog bite is deep enough, it can damage muscles, nerves, tendons, and bones. The wound must be thoroughly cleaned to eliminate any bacteria and dirt and any dead tissues should be removed. Depending on the size and type of bite, the wound may also require sutures to close the opening. Sutures are often used on visible areas of the body as they help prevent scaring. However, suturing also increases the risk of infection. If a deep bite wound is very deep, the injury may require plastic surgery.
In Georgia, dog owners may be held liable for any damages their pets inflict on another. This includes when a dog attack causes injuries, when the owner did not properly restrain the animal, when an owner knowingly kept a vicious animal, or when an attack was not provoked by the victim. Georgia also follows a first bite rule. Before a pet owner can be held liable for a dog bite, the owner must first know that the dog has the propensity to injure another. This does not necessarily mean that the animal had to have bit someone before, but only that the dog has shown some aggressive tendencies.
If a pet owner is found to be liable for an injury caused by their dog, the victim may be entitled to compensation for any losses incurred. Damages may include medical expenses, loss of income during recovery, pain and suffering, and property damage (e.g. torn clothing, broken jewelry, etc.) A dog bite claim may cover a wide range of injury types, such as puncture wounds, avulsion (tearing), abrasions and lacerations, fractures, contusions and hematomas, amputations, and crushing injuries of the head and skull. If the attack was particularly serious, the victim may also suffer psychological damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Obtaining compensation for your dog bite injury can be challenging without the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. In many cases, compensation does not come from the pet owner, but from the owner’s homeowners’ insurance. If an individual, such as a utility work or delivery person, was injured while performing job duties, he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in addition to compensation from the dog owner. At Lamar Law Office, we will thoroughly investigate your claim and calculate your losses to determine if you may be entitled for compensation for your injuries.