Dogs can be man’s best friend, or they can be ferocious and frightening. And when they attack, they can cause severe injuries. The American Humane Society estimates that there are over five million dog bites every year—and victims are often children.
If you’re one of the millions of people who has suffered from a dog bite or has a child who has suffered through an attack, and you live in the Canton area, you may be able to assert a personal injury claim. Talk to a Canton personal injury lawyer about your options as soon as possible after the incident.
Many personal injury attorneys will tell you that Georgia has one of the most complicated dog bite laws in the United States. You need an attorney who has experience in this specific area of the law to help you with your case.
John Foy & Associates has handled hundreds of dog bite cases over the years, and we can help you assert your claim appropriately.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite in Canton?
Generally, the dog owner will be liable if their dog bites another person. However, depending on what happened, you may have to prove a few facts to demonstrate that they’re liable. This includes:
- You did not provoke the dog;
- The owner was careless or allowed the dog to roam free; and
- The dog is dangerous or vicious.
Because of these requirements, it can be challenging to prove a dog bite injury claim without a lawyer you help you. Having an experienced attorney on your side to help prove the facts of your claim can make a big difference in your case.
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How do I Show that the Owner Was Careless?
Georgia is a “negligence” state when it comes to dog bites. That means that if the dog’s owner was not acting in a reasonable way at the time of the injury, they are liable. Usually, you must show that the dog was running free because of some fault of the owner. You may also have prove that the dog’s owner knew that the dog was dangerous.
This isn’t always as hard as it sounds. If the dog wasn’t on a leash when the bite occurred, that’s generally enough to prove that the dog was “vicious”—if there’s a leash law that says it should have been leashed.
In Cherokee County, there is no leash ordinance that applies to all dogs; most dogs can be off their leash if they obey voice commands correctly. Nonetheless, the City of Canton has specific leash laws that are in effect in many parks and other areas. If a dog owner doesn’t follow those requirements, they are far more likely to be considered negligent or careless in restraining their dog.
What does Canton Consider a Dangerous or Vicious Dog?
A dog can still be dangerous even if it was on a leash or otherwise restrained. For example, a dog on a leash is still considered vicious if it has already harmed another person. The dog could have done this by biting, attacking, or endangering a human in any other way.
If the owner knew about this previous attack, the owner is liable. This definition is often referred to as a “one bite rule.” The dog essentially gets one “free” bite before they are considered a danger. This is why a good dog bite lawyer will work to find out the history of the dog that attacked you. If it’s attacked someone before, there’s likely a record of it, even if the owner does not want you to know.
There is one exception to this rule. If the dog is used by law enforcement to carry out official law enforcement duties, it’s much more difficult to prove that it was vicious or dangerous, or that the owner (the law enforcement agency) is liable—but in cases of excessive use of police force, it can be done.
What Happens If the Dog Bite Occurred at the Dog’s Home Residence?
You still have rights. However, it can be harder to prove liability in some cases. For example, if the dog attacks or bites because it is protecting its territory from intruders, then the owner will not be liable. The owner also will not be responsible where the dog is defending the owner from assault or abuse.
Generally, if the victim of the bite is attempting to commit a crime at the time of the injury, the owner will not be legally responsible for the damages.
What does It Mean to Provoke the Dog?
In most cases, a dog is not considered vicious if you provoked it to attack or bite. If you tease or abuse the animal, and then get bitten as a result, the dog owner likely will not be liable.
Of course, dog owners may try to use this as an excuse, and claim you were provoking the dog even if you weren’t. It helps to take time to recalling exactly what you were doing and what the dog was doing at the time of the incident—and it can help prove your case in court.
Provocation can also include unintentional acts that harm or upset the dog. For example, if you step on a sleeping dog that you did not see and then get bitten as a result, you have still provoked the dog. In that situation, the owner may not be liable for your bite.
Talk to a Canton Dog Bite Lawyer for Free
Dog bite laws are complex. But you claim doesn’t have to be. The team at John Foy & Associates has the experience determine your legal options and help you prove your claim.
You may be able to recover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other costs. Let us give you a FREE consultation. We never charge a dime unless you recover money for your claim. Contact us or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.