Dogs are well-known as “man’s best friend” in McDonough, Georgia. But, like any animal, if they are threatened, sick, confused, or just angry, they can turn on you.
When that happens, a dog’s bite can be minor, possibly not even breaking the skin, but they can also be very severe, causing long-term damage, scarring, and mental issues as well. In those cases, it’s a good idea to involve a McDonough personal injury lawyer so they can help you determine what you should do next.
John Foy & Associates has seen a wide variety of dog bite cases over the last 20 years of helping personal injury victims in Georgia. We care about our clients who have been through this very traumatic and trying experience.
Children are some of the most common victims of dog bites, and our team has experience dealing with these very sensitive cases. Let us help you and your loved ones as well. Call us and get your free consultation today.
How Can I Prove that the Dog’s Owner Is Responsible for Their Dog?
Georgia has specific laws that address dog bites and injuries caused by other animals. In many situations, the dog’s owner will be held responsible for their animal’s actions when it harms someone else. But, it’s not automatic. As a dog bite victim, you must show:
- The dog was vicious or dangerous
- The dog was not restrained or restricted properly
- The dog caused your injuries and damages
You must also show that you did not provoke the animal either.
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Which Dogs Are Considered Vicious or Dangerous?
A dog is considered dangerous or vicious when it shows some aggressive behavior. Some people call this the “one bite rule,” because it assumes that the dog’s owner will not know that a dog is dangerous until after it bites someone for the first time.
But, a dog can be considered vicious or dangerous without actually biting someone under Georgia law. A dog exhibits aggressive or vicious behavior when it snaps at others, growls, or chases (or charges) after someone. Just because a dog missed their target when attempting an attack doesn’t mean that it is “cleared” of being considered vicious.
A dog can also automatically be considered vicious if it was supposed to be restrained on a leash and isn’t. That means that if you are in a park that has a leash law and a dog attacks you while not on a leash, then the owner is still legally responsible even if the dog showed no prior signs of aggression.
What Are the Restraint or Control Requirements for Dogs Under Georgia Law?
Every town or area in Georgia is different when it comes to requirements to restrain dogs. In McDonough, Georgia, for example, a dog that is wandering freely is always in violation of the laws in Henry County. Dog owners must take steps to ensure that their dogs confined in one of the following ways:
- In a pin, house, building, fence or other enclosure
- Behind an invisible containment system (invisible fence)
- On a leash and under the control of a competent person
- Obedient to voice commands if the dog is off its leash
There are also very strict requirements regarding when an animal can be tethered with a rope or line as well.
Generally, any time that a dog is running around without restraint, regardless of whether or not they have tags, the dog’s owner is violating the laws in the McDonough area.
What Should I Do After a Dog Bite Situation?
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you should always get medical attention right away. It’s in your best interest to make sure that your injuries are addressed immediately. In some cases, you will need to get a rabies vaccination quickly too. Dog bites are particularly prone to infection, so getting treatment right away is essential.
After you have addressed any emergency circumstances, remember: you likely have a right to financial damages for the injury, and your dog bite settlement could be bigger than you think. Protect your legal rights by taking these five steps:
Try to Determine Who Owns the Dog
You will need to figure out who owns the dog for your legal case. But, you shouldn’t try to catch or hold the dog after it has attacked. If you can’t figure out who owns the dog right away, let animal control or your attorney take steps to figure out who the dog belongs to.
Get Information from the Dog’s Owner
You should get contact information from the dog’s owner, if possible. It’s pretty common that a dog’s owner will not talk to you after the incident, but, if you can, get their name, phone number, and insurance information. Many homeowners’ insurance policies will cover dog bites so you may need to make an insurance claim.
Talk with Witnesses
If anyone was around you when the bite occurred, it’s a good idea to get their contact information as well. Ask them what they heard and saw so you are aware too. Witnesses will be able to tell the dog owner or their insurance company what happened, including the fact that you didn’t provoke the dog.
Call Animal Control or the Police
Even if you talked to the dog’s owners, it’s still a good idea to make a report with the police or animal control. That way, there is a record that this dog has bitten someone. Even if this the first time that the dog acted aggressively, having a report about the incident can help someone else who is bitten in the future.
Be sure to Record All of Your Injuries and Damages
Recording everything that happened just before and just after the dog bite incident can be very important. Write down what you remember—you may not realize what will be important to your dog bite case down the road. These legal cases can take a considerable amount of time, so having a record of what happened just after the incident can help you remember what happened when you have to recount it later, especially if that is in court.
Talk to a McDonough Dog Bite Lawyer for Free
If you or a loved one has suffered through a dog bite, your life may be very different today than it was before the attack. You may have legal options that can help you move forward with your life. John Foy & Associates can help. Call us or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.