Dog Bite Cases: Potential Evidence of an Owner’s Knowledge of the Dog’s Viciousness


September 18, 2014

While dog bite laws differ from state to state, the knowledge of a dog owner that his or her dog has a tendency to be vicious can be an important issue in a Georgia dog bite lawsuit. This knowledge requirement is sometimes referred to as the "scienter requirement". This element of a dog bite claim is also sometimes referred to as the "one bite rule", but this terminology is misleading because the dog need not have bitten anyone in the past, and the dog does not get "one free bite".

Our Atlanta dog bite attorneys have provided examples of types of evidence that might be relevant in proving that a dog owner knew a dog was potentially aggressive.

• Threatening People: If a dog snaps and growls at visitors when the dog is in public, this might provide adequate notice that the dog poses a threat of biting. By contrast, the mere fact the dog barks at strangers in a public place is probably not sufficient to establish knowledge that a dog is potentially vicious.

• Prior Bites: If the dog owner knows that a dog has bitten someone else on a prior occasion, this obviously constitutes sufficient information to put the owner on notice of the dog's tendency to act in a vicious way toward others.

• Dog Training: If the owner knows that the dog has been provided with guard dog or attack dog training, this information would likely be sufficient to provide knowledge that the dog is potentially dangerous. Even if the owner was not the one who provided the training, knowledge of the training is probably adequate.

• Complaints by Neighbors: If neighbors complain about the dog lunging and attempting to bite, this type of evidence would tend to meet the scienter requirement. However, mere complaints that the dog is "annoying" or a "nuisance" would be less likely to be sufficient.

• Breed of Dog: Generally, judges do not assume that certain breeds of dogs are inherently dangerous. However, jurors have pre-conceptions, so a jury might be more likely to find a Rottweiler, Pit Bull or Doberman to be dangerous than a fluffy poodle regardless of whether this assumption is accurate. Some jurisdictions have Dangerous Dog Breed Laws, and this type of law could impact this issue in those jurisdictions.

• Warning Signs: While people might be inclined to post warning signs to warn those who come on property of the risk of a dog bite, a sign indicating "Beware of Dog" or "Dog Bites" could be offered as evidence of knowledge that the dog is violent.

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

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a dog attack, contact our experienced Atlanta dog bite lawyers to discuss your legal rights to compensation. Montlick and Associates has 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.