Answers to Common Questions about Dog Bite Claims in Georgia


July 08, 2014

Some people presume that they are entitled to compensation for their injuries if they are attacked by a neighbor's dog, such as while returning misdelivered mail. This is a notion that seems both fair and reasonable. However, Georgia dog bite law is not this straightforward, so victims of vicious dogs need an experienced Atlanta dog bite lawyer when pursuing a personal injury claim. A sad reality that many do not know is that in some situations Georgia law favors dog owners not bite victims. The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Montlick & Associave have provided some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) to clear up some common misconceptions about dog bite claims.

Am I entitled to compensation if I am attacked by a person's dog while walking past the dog owner's home on the public sidewalk?

In many states, this situation will almost always justify recovery. However, these states apply the doctrine of strict liability in dog bite cases while Georgia follows the more archaic "one bite rule." While it might be sufficient to establish that the victim was lawfully present and did not provoke the dog in a strict liability state, Georgia law requires more. The bite victim must establish that the owner of the dog "knew or should have known" that the dog had a tendency to be vicious. This does not necessarily mean that the dog needs to have previously bitten someone. Our dog bite attorneys often locate witnesses who testify to prior acts of aggression, such as lunging and growling at a person.

If the dog owner violates a leash law or ordinances that prohibit animals from running free, a violation of such a law also can constitute a basis for imposing liability on a dog owner. If the dog is loose in violation of a leash law, you can base your legal claim on the dog owner's careless or intentional violation of the ordinance.

What if the dog owner claims that he is not responsible because I provoked the dog?

While dog owners may have a valid defense if a dog bite victim antagonizes or teases a dog, this fact does not necessarily constitute a complete defense. A jury can find the victim's own negligence contributed to the incident. In this situation, the dog bite victim's recovery will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. If the jury determines that the plaintiff is 50 percent or more at-fault this would essentially result in no recovery.

Can my neighbor be punished for allowing his vicious pit bull to roam the neighborhood?

A dog attack under these circumstances might expose the dog owner to both criminal liability, and civil liability for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of willful or wanton misconduct. The purpose of punitive damages is to impose a financial penalty to punish and discourage particularly reckless behavior.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case

Our attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 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.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.