Dog bites are serious. In the U.S., there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites per year, and many of these lead to serious, lasting injuries – often involving children. If you or someone you love was hurt by a dog bite in Columbus, Georgia, John Foy & Associates can help.
For over 20 years, we have been helping injury victims navigate the legal system and recover the money they need. When you call our firm, we will sit down with you for a free consultation with one of our Columbus personal injury attorneys and help you understand your legal options.
The Georgia Responsible Dog Owner Act
In 2012, the state of Georgia passed the Georgia Responsible Dog Owner Act, which forces dog owners to take responsibility for any injuries their dogs cause. Dog owners are now prohibited from owning more than one dog of a dangerous breed, and these owners must maintain $50,000 or more in liability insurance.
Insurance is crucial because the costs of a dog bite can be much more than you think. Dog bites can leave you with permanent injuries and disfigurement. In severe cases, they could even make you disabled. You deserve compensation if these things happen.
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What Should I Do If I Was Bitten by a Dog in Columbus?
The most important thing to do after a dog bite in Columbus is to take care of yourself and get medical attention. The moments after a dog bite can be traumatic, especially if a child was involved.
However, if it’s possible, take the time to get as much information as you can. Find out the name and address of the dog’s owner if you don’t already know it. This is the single most important piece of information in your case.
When possible, you should also find out whether the dog has had its shots, including a rabies shot. If the answer is no or if you cannot find out, you should see a doctor immediately. Your doctor may need to administer a rabies prevention shot within 24 hours of the dog bite.
Other ways you can gather information include:
- Take pictures of the dog, the bite, and the scene where it happened
- Speak to any witnesses, and ask for their names and contact information
- Ask witnesses or neighbors if they know who the dog belongs to
You should also see a doctor after any dog bite, even if it doesn’t appear serious at first. Even non-scarring dog bites can develop into serious medical problems including infection, rabies, tetanus, or damaged tendons and muscles.
What If I don’t Know Who Owns the Dog?
We can help. When you call John Foy & Associates, our dog bite lawyers in Columbus will send an investigator to track down the owner. In Columbus, even seemingly free-roaming dogs often have a home. We can search the neighborhood and speak to neighbors. Often, someone will know the dog by name or description and we can find out who the owner is.
Who Should I Report a Dog Bite to in Columbus?
You should report any dog bite immediately to both the police and Animal Control:
- The Columbus Police Department: Always report animal bites to the police. If necessary, police can come and capture the dog and identify the owner; and a police report helps make your claim stronger. Dial 911 in an emergency or call the non-emergency police line at 706-653-3231.
- Animal Control: Columbus Animal Control tracks all incidents related to dogs and you should report exactly what happened. They may also know whether the dog in question has a history of past attacks. Columbus Animal Control can be reached at 706-653-4512.
You should also speak to a Columbus dog bite attorney immediately. Dog owners will often do everything in their power to avoid taking responsibility, but the law is on your side. Your lawyer can help you get the full recovery you are entitled to.
What Happens When I Report a Dog Bite? Will the Dog Be Put Down?
In most cases the dog will not be put down. However, some dogs that are considered dangerous may be put down if they consistently pose a threat to human beings.
Most dogs are not considered dangerous unless they have bitten someone before.
Your dog bite lawyer will find out whether the dog that attacked you has bitten anyone else. This will help us determine how to proceed with the case. Some dogs are considered dangerous simply because their breed is highly aggressive. These include:
- Pit bulls
- Any fighting breed, such as Dogo Argentino or Presa Canario
- Any wolf/dog hybrid
You have a right to a recovery no matter what kind of dog was involved in the attack. Even a normally friendly dog can attack, for seemingly no reason at all. Still, no matter the reason, the owner is the one liable for the attack.
Who Is Legally Responsible for the Injury?
The owner is responsible for any injury caused by their dog, and that’s who you will sue for your dog bite injury. Dog owners have a legal duty to ensure that their dog is:
- Properly trained
- Properly behaved
- Properly controlled
Even if the owner wasn’t around when the dog bite happened, they are still responsible. They should have had the dog under control at all times by containing it in the home or on a chain outside. A dog bite attorney in Columbus can investigate the dog owner’s liability surrounding the circumstances of your injury.
What If I Was a Trespasser?
The rules change if you were on someone’s property without their permission. Trespassers often lose legal recourse to sue if they are hurt while on the property. The circumstances are crucial in this kind of case.
What Costs Can I Recover for a Dog Bite?
Barring the above case, you are entitled to recover 100% of the costs associated with the dog bite. The most common costs we see in dog bite cases include:
- Medical expenses such as doctor appointments, hospital visits, medication or surgery
- The cost of any psychological treatment that’s needed after the attack
- Lost income due to missing work
A dog bite lawyer in Columbus may also help you obtain additional money for what’s known as “pain and suffering.” This means you suffered trauma related to the dog bite. The amount of this compensation will vary depending on the circumstances and the opinion of the court.
What If the Dog Belongs to a Friend, Relative, or Neighbor?
You should still report it, and you still have the same rights. Remember, when you file a dog bite claim, you are not asking for the dog to be punished, nor are you blaming your friend for what happened. You are simply pursuing your right to recover the costs of your treatment.
In many cases the money will come from an insurance policy—your friend will not pay anything out of pocket. Thus, you can get compensation without worrying about financially ruining your close one. A dog bite lawyer in Columbus can negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your claim.
What If the Dog Bit Me While I Was Working on Someone’s Home?
The owner is still responsible. In fact, owners have a legal responsibility to keep dogs crated or controlled when any guest is on their property. You qualify for the same financial recovery as anyone else, and you may have a worker’s comp claim as well.
Is There a Deadline to File a Dog Bite Claim in Columbus?
Yes. If you wait too long to file your claim, you will not receive any money at all. In Columbus, the local courts follow legal deadlines determined by both Georgia law and US federal law. In many cases you could have up to two years to file a claim, but there are exceptions that make the deadline much shorter. Don’t risk losing your claim. Speak to a dog bite lawyer immediately.
How Can I Avoid Being Bitten by a Dog?
If you run into a dog on the loose, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of an attack. Dogs have certain behaviors that can tell us when they are scared or feeling aggressive before an attack.
These tips from the ASPCA can help you from getting bit in the first place. If you keep running into a dog that acts aggressive, call Columbus Animal Control to report it before it attacks someone.
Talk to a Columbus Dog Bite Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we understand dog bite cases, and we believe in making legal help as affordable as possible. That’s why we never charge anything unless we win you money, and we’re always happy to sit down with you for a free consultation. Call our Columbus dog bite lawyers or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.