Georgia Supreme Court Opinion Regarding Dog Bite Cases
Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Discusses Recent Supreme Court Opinion Regarding Dog Bite Cases
Dog bite incidents are often difficult to deal with, especially because many of us love dogs, but at the same time, we want to make sure they do not cause harm to other people or animals. While there are many wonderful dogs out there, there are also a few dogs that exhibit potentially dangerous behavior that poses a risk to both dog owners and other people or pets.
There may be a fine line between when a dog is considered aggressive and when that dog is considered to be potentially dangerous. The Georgia Supreme Court recently had to answer a question about what is considered "potentially dangerous" for purposes of holding a dog owner responsible when his or her dog bites and causes injury to another person.
Injured Woman Seeks to Hold Dog Owner Responsible
The dog bite case recently before the Georgia Supreme Court was about a woman who suffered severe bites from being attacked by her neighbor’s Pitbull mix. The dog had been rescued by the neighbor from the side of the road approximately six months before the incident. On one occasion, the dog had snapped at the woman next door, but did not physically harm her. On a second occasion, when the woman put her hand towards the dog to allow the dog to smell her, the dog bit the woman.
Both the dog owner and another person tried to help the woman, and in the process, the woman fell, which then led the dog to attack her for a second time. The woman was taken to the emergency room and suffered severe injuries and permanent nerve damage. The dog was put down, and the injured woman subsequently filed a lawsuit against her neighbor. The neighbor sought to dismiss the case because the dog had not previously bitten a person before it bit her, but had only “snapped” at the woman on one occasion.
The case went to the Georgia Supreme Court so that the Court could clarify what the line is from when a dog is considered potentially dangerous and at risk for biting somebody. The Supreme Court decided that a snap alone may be considered enough for the owner to be aware that the dog is vicious. This ruling will allow the injured woman to take her case to a jury so that a jury can decide if the dog’s act of snapping at the woman on the first occasion is enough to establish that the neighbor had reason to know the dog was dangerous and could harm someone. If the jury does decide the snap was enough, then the dog owner can be found liable for the woman’s injuries.
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