Dog bites are not minor injuries. In the United States alone, there are roughly 4.5 million dog bites per year, many of which will develop into serious injuries. Dog bite injuries are especially serious considering that many victims are small children. That’s why Georgia has strict laws governing dog owners.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced dog bite lawyer in Augusta from John Foy & Associates can help you get what you’re owed from the dog owner responsible for your injuries.
What Should You Do If You Were Bitten by a Dog in Augusta?
The first thing you should do is get medical attention. All dog bites should be examined by a doctor, even if they seem minor. A seemingly small dog bite could still lead to complications including infection or damaged tendons and muscles.
If it’s possible, you should also gather as much information as you can about the dog. The most important thing to find out is who the owner is, and whether or not the dog has had its shots. If the dog has not been vaccinated, or if you cannot find out, your doctor will most likely need to give you a rabies prevention shot immediately.
You should try to gather as much of the following information at the scene as possible:
- Take pictures of the dog, the injury, and where it happened
- Find witnesses who saw what happened and ask them for their contact info
- Ask people nearby if they know who owns the dog
Get the strong arm
Who Should You Report a Dog Bite to in Augusta?
All dog bites should be reported to the local sheriff and Animal Services:
- Reach out to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. Having an incident report from the Sheriff’s office strengthens your claim, and deputies can help capture the dog if necessary.
- The Augusta Animal Services division is the primary agency responsible for investigating dog bites.
It is also recommended that you speak to a dog bite lawyer in Augusta immediately. Often, dog owners will tell you they want to work things out without getting lawyers involved, only to try to wriggle out of paying for your medical costs. Remember, the law is on your side. Speak to an attorney from the beginning.
What If You don’t Know Who the Dog Owner Is?
When you call an experienced law office in Augusta, an attorney can send an investigator to find out who owns the dog, where they live, and how to contact them. Even dogs that are roaming freely generally have a home.
An investigator can search the neighborhood and speak to neighbors in the area. Usually, someone will recognize the dog and help you and your dog bite lawyer find the owner.
Will the Dog that Bit Me Be Put Down?
No, in most cases the dog will not be put down. The law only requires putting down dogs that are deemed dangerous. In Augusta, a dog is only “dangerous” if it has bitten people multiple times, or if it belongs to certain highly aggressive breeds. These breeds include:
- Pit bulls
- Fighting breeds, like the dogo argentino
- Any dog that has wolf blood
You have the same rights in a dog bite case no matter what kind of dog was responsible. Even a friendly dog can suddenly turn aggressive.
Who Is Legally Responsible for Your Dog Bite Injuries?
The owner is responsible for the injury. The law requires every dog owner to make sure that their dog is:
- Well behaved
This includes using a leash when outside the house, keeping the dog somewhere secure at home (such as a fence they cannot get over), and supervising them whenever they are around people. Simply put, the law says the owner must control the dog at all times. A dog who attacks someone is not under control, and the owner is liable.
What Costs Can You Recover If You Were Bitten By a Dog?
You have a right to recover all costs associated with the bite. This may include:
- Doctor visits, hospital stays, and medical bills
- The cost of medication
- Physical rehabilitation
- Any psychological treatment that you need after the attack
- Lost income caused by missing work
In the event of a serious injury, you could qualify for additional money as well. Your Augusta dog bite lawyer from John Foy & Associates can help you understand exactly how much your financial recovery may be worth.
What If the Dog Belongs to a Friend or Neighbor?
You should still report every dog bite that happens and speak to an Augusta dog bite attorney.
Often, dog bite victims don’t want to take action because the dog owner is a relative, but you are not asking for the dog or owner to be punished. You are simply seeking fair payment for your injuries and other costs. Plus, the money will typically come from an insurance policy, not out of your loved one’s pocket.
What If the Dog Bit You While You Were Working on Someone’s Home?
Dog owners have a legal duty to keep their dogs contained or controlled anytime there is a guest on the property. This includes employees, gardeners, delivery persons, and workers of any kind. You have a right to a recovery for your dog bite, and you may also qualify for a workers’ compensation claim.
Is There a Deadline to File a Dog Bite Injury Claim in Georgia?
Yes, legal deadlines move quickly and you should get legal help as soon after the accident as possible. In Augusta, the local courts use deadlines set by both Georgia and federal law. At most you could have up to two years to file a dog bite claim, but it could be much shorter. Talk to a dog bite lawyer immediately so you don’t miss your opportunity to collect compensation.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Augusta Dog Bite Lawsuits
If you are possibly responsible for the accident, for instance, if you entered your neighbor’s yard despite the warning signs, or put your hand through the fence to pet the dog, the owner could have a legal defense to your dog bite lawsuit. Your dog bite lawyer in Augusta can help you prepare to counter any points the other side makes.
If you share part of the blame for the accident along with the dog’s owner, you can still collect compensation, according to Georgia’s modified comparative negligence law, so long as you are less than 49% responsible for the incident.
You Can Receive Compensation for Serious Dog Bite Injuries
Medical treatment can be costly and treatment may last for years after the attack. There is a risk of long-term health problems from these serious dog attacks. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, you should not have to pay the medical bills necessary to heal when a dog’s owner is at fault.
Your Augusta dog bite attorney should be prepared to do everything possible to obtain compensation for your:
- Open or infected wounds
- Broken bones
- Nerve and muscle damage to the arm, leg, or hand
- Injuries that will require plastic surgery
Rules for Dangerous Dogs in Georgia
There are much tighter regulations (per Ga. Code § 4-8-21) for owners of a dangerous dog that has a history of inflicting serious harm on a person without provocation, or has been shown to aggressively bite, attack, or endanger people’s safety. Georgia does not follow the one-bite rule, but it does enforce similar standards.
Once you notify a dog control officer that a dog has attacked you, the officer sends notice to the owner. The state then schedules a hearing to determine if the dog is indeed dangerous and the owner is then required to register the animal with the city and carry at least $50,000 in liability insurance.
Your attorney can make points in their defense if the dog was not kept within a secure enclosure with visible warning signs, and if the dog was on a walk and not restrained by a leash less than six feet long or muzzled.
If the dog gets loose, the owner must alert the dog control officer within 24 hours. If they fail to comply, the dog may be confiscated. The owners may also be fined and imprisoned, in addition to being liable for any injuries you’ve suffered.
Talk to an Augusta Dog Bite Lawyer for Free
John Foy & Associates has 20 years of experience helping people like you. We have a strong record of success for our clients and want victims of a dog bite to receive the compensation they’re owed.
If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, let our Augusta dog bite lawyers help you. Our lawyers focus our entire practice on helping individuals with injuries get a financial recovery and return to the best health possible. Contact us and get your 100% free consultation today.