Dog bites occur far more frequently in Stone Mountain than you might think. Dog bites can cause severe and long-term damage, especially if they become infected. In those situations, it is a good idea to call a Stone Mountain dog bite attorney to discuss your legal options.
Let us help you get legal counsel and secure the best outcome for your case. John Foy & Associates will give you a free consultation to get you started. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Dog Bites Can Result in Serious Injuries
Hundreds of dog bites occur across Georgia every year. When a dog’s owner lets the dog run freely or has a careless disregard for how their dog acts around others, that can lead to harm and legal liability. As mentioned previously, dog bites can cause devastating injuries, especially to the elderly and small children.
Recent plastic surgery statistics from 2018 showed that there were 26,906 reconstructive surgeries for dog bites. These surgeries cost lots of money and take an immense toll physically and mentally. Not to mention the lengthy recovery time afterward. So, whatever damages you sustained, know that you can get compensation for them.
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Who Can I File a Claim Against?
In accordance with the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), § 51-2-7, dog owners must keep their animals under control to prevent injury to others. This is particularly true when the dog’s owner knows that it is vicious or has bitten others in the past. Dog bite laws in Georgia are based on the concept of “negligence.”
That is, the dog’s owner must have been careless in one way or another, and that carelessness caused the dog to bite. Negligence is usually shown in one of two ways.
The Owner Knew Their Dog Was Dangerous
The law on dog bites in Stone Mountain is based on Georgia’s “one bite” rule. This rule sometimes gets referred to as the “first bite free” rule or the “common law rule” regarding dog bites. Under this rule, a dog’s owner is only charged with knowing that their dog is dangerous after it has already bitten someone else.
But this rule applies to other aggressive behaviors as well, not just a bite. So, if the dog’s owner knew that the dog had previously chased, nipped, or lunged at someone, the owner should have known that the dog has the potential to bite as well.
Basically, if the dog showed signs of aggression in the past and didn’t control the dog accordingly, that may be enough to count as negligence.
The Owner didn’t Properly Restrain Their Dog
Another ground for starting a lawsuit is if the owner was negligent in how they were keeping the dog. For example, if the owner let the dog run free in a location where it should have been on a leash, that could be enough to show that the dog counts as “vicious.”
The same type of situation occurs when a dog frequently gets out of its fence and bites someone while it is roaming free unsupervised. Any kind of situation where the owner failed to contain the dog while unsupervised can count.
You only need to demonstrate one of these two facts to prove your claim. Our dog bite attorneys in Stone Mountain have a long history of gathering the evidence needed to make a strong case and win a settlement.
Exceptions to Dog Bite Liability
There are instances where you could be entirely at fault for the dog bite. However, these situations are rare, so it’s a good idea to talk to our Stone Mountain dog bite lawyers first about the particular facts of your circumstance before you rule out the possibility of a dog bite claim. There are two main ways that you could be at fault for your dog bite.
Teasing or Provoking the Dog
For that reason, dog owners are usually not liable for a dog bite if you were teasing or taunting the dog before the bite occurred. But, keep in mind that when you are simply trying to be friendly, a dog may think you are a threat. That means that what the dog thinks is provocation may not be something that would keep you from filing a dog bite lawsuit in your local court.
Dogs often act as “guards” or “protectors.” As a result, dog owners will not be liable for dog bites that occur because the dog is defending its property or family against those who are illegally present on their property.
Again, the dog may think you shouldn’t be there when you have a legal right to be on the property. Dogs may react negatively even when you’re visiting friends and neighbors with permission.
Beware of false accusations from insurers. Just because you get accused of “provoking” an animal does not mean it’s true. We can prove the facts.
Damages You Can Receive Compensation for
With John Foy & Associates on your side, you can receive compensation for several damages related to your dog bite injury:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Emotional trauma and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost wages
- Disfigurement and disability
- Wrongful death
We will calculate all your damages to ensure that you get the maximum amount of compensation. Our Stone Mountain dog bite lawyers won’t let the insurance company settle for anything less than what accurately reflects the damages you sustained.
What If the Owner Claims It’s Not Their Dog’s Fault?
Georgia law assumes that the dog is harmless. Of course, this assumption may or may not be accurate, depending on the dog. Victims have the obligation of showing that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous and that the owner was not taking appropriate action to keep the dangerous dog away from others.
Keep in mind that you must prove that the dog owner was negligent to recover a settlement. For example, if the dog broke free of its chain for the first time, that may not be a situation where there’s any liability. But anything careless, like dropping a leash, could lead to damages.
These cases are very fact-specific, so it helps to record exactly what happened just before and during the bite. This information will help your lawyer build the strongest case possible and improve your chances of recovering money.
What If My Friend’s Dog Bit Me?
If a friend or family member’s dog bit you, you can still file a claim. Many people hesitate to do so because they don’t want any ill will or bad blood. However, when you file a claim, it gets handled by their insurance company. So, you’re not personally making any legal move against them.
Don’t hesitate to file a claim. While it is noble to be respectful and considerate of people close to you, that doesn’t mean you should end up having to eat the costs of your damages either. It’s okay to file a claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Georgia’s Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for dog bites in Georgia is generally two years. However, keep in mind that these two years can fluctuate depending on certain factors surrounding your dog bite case. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with a lawyer quickly so that you can begin the claim filing process.
Even though it’s not wise to rush into a claim blindly, neither is waiting until the last minute. If you wait too long, you run the risk of putting yourself at an extreme disadvantage against the insurance company. Time isn’t on your side, so act quickly to gather evidence and build a strong case.
Talk to a Stone Mountain Dog Bite Lawyer for Free
If you don’t know where to begin with your claim, don’t worry. Our Stone Mountain dog bite lawyers will guide you through the entire process. John Foy & Associates can help you with a free consultation at no risk or obligation to you. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or fill out the form to your right to schedule your appointment. We are available 24/7 to assist.