Georgia has a complex dog bite statute that tends to favor the dog owner over the victim. In order to make a claim against the owner of a dog who attacked you, Georgia law requires that you prove the existence of more than one basis for liability. This is in contrast to several other states that merely require you prove one. Case law has additionally imposed some exceptions that prevent injured victims from holding negligent dog owners accountable for their injuries. However, some recent court decisions seem to indicate that Georgia is increasingly seeking to reverse course and it seems likely that Georgia’s dog bite statute will be amended in the future to reflect current trends.
Georgia’s Dog Bite Statute
Georgia’s dog bite statute is set out in Ga. Code Ann., § 51-2-6 to 7. The statute provides two ways in which an animal owner can be found liable for the injuries his or her animal inflicts.
Knowledge of viciousness: The victim must prove that the animal was dangerous or vicious and the owner had knowledge of this. Further, the victim must prove the defendant either carelessly managed the animal or allowed it to roam freely.
Violation of leash law: The plaintiff must prove that the animal was not on a leash or at a heel as required by the local ordinance and the defendant either carelessly managed the animal or allowed it to roam freely.
Proving these elements can be difficult and will require the victim to obtain skilled representation by a personal injury attorney well versed in animal bite laws. Knowledge as to the dog’s dangerous propensities would include any prior bites inflicted by the dog or even instances of near attacks. Courts can additionally look to evidence that the dog has growled or bared its teeth at strangers. Evidence as to careless management of the animal includes routinely allowing it off leash or placing the dog in a fenced in area when the owner knows it can escape.
Landlord Liability for Dog Attacks
Georgia landlords could be held responsible for dog attacks occurring on or near their rented property if they knew that their tenants had a vicious dog. Knowledge of the dog’s presence and its dangerous tendencies will be paramount to proving liability. Anyone who has been injured by a dog or other animal should consult with an attorney as soon as possible so that the incident can be timely investigated and their legal rights protected.
Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law: Put Our Over 39 Years of Experience to Work on Your Personal Injury Case!
If you have been attacked by an animal, contact the Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law. Our firm offers dedicated representation to dog bite and other animal bite victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Our firm brings over 39 years of experience to your case, providing you with the zealous representation you need to obtain the results you desire. The sooner you act after your injury, the greater your chances of obtaining a full recovery. As such, it is important that you seek the assistance of an attorney, as soon as possible. Call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.