In 2016, Georgia was ranked in the top 10 U.S. states for dog bite insurance claims. Although the state moved down to number 14 in 2021, you still should be aware that a dog bite can have serious medical and emotional consequences. Getting bitten can lead to long-term treatment for injuries or disfigurement.
John Foy & Associates are known as the Strong Arm in Georgia, and we work to help victims like you every day. Our skilled attorneys offer a free case review to help you understand your options when you or a loved one has been injured. We will advise you on what an average settlement for a dog bite claim in Georgia is and what you can expect in your specific situation.
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What Is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite in Georgia?
The most recent data for Georgia shows an average settlement amount for a dog bite claim is nearly $48,000, with close to 500 claims filed each year. Each case is unique, and the estimated settlement for your case will depend on a number of factors. The severity of your wounds, the dog’s history of previous attacks, and the owner’s record of handling dogs will all come into play.
The average settlement payout may seem like a reasonable amount of money to cover your injuries, but the costs and suffering from a dog bite attack can add up quickly. When you consider that you may face disability or nerve damage for the rest of your life, it becomes clear that you need the best lawyer you can find. An attorney with a strong history of winning the maximum compensation available for their clients will give you a better chance of recovering what you need.
Successfully negotiating a satisfactory settlement is not easy, however. Dog bites are usually covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy of the dog owner. Insurance companies are in the business of holding onto their money and not paying it out unless necessary. They will fight hard to deny or reduce your settlement and keep their costs down.
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Damages You Can Recover from a Dog Bite Claim in Georgia
Dog bites are so pervasive in Georgia that the Department of Public Health considers them a health concern, especially for children and the elderly. The risk of rabies from a dog attack can be significant. Severe dog bites often involve tremendous bills for reconstructive surgeries or other long-term treatment.
Even “minor” bites can be painful and become infected if not cared for right away and thoroughly. As with any personal injury case in Georgia, the person responsible for the accident is liable for all damages. This is usually the owner of the dog, but it can include others such as a dog walker or a person who provoked the dog to attack.
Types of Economic and Non-Economic Damages You Can Claim
As a victim, you can seek financial recovery for the costs of your dog bite, both economic and non-economic damages. Some examples of each include:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital costs, such as for ICU, ER, and surgeries
- Ongoing surgery expenses
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medications or medical devices
- Travel expenses for treatment
- Loss of income
- Loss of earning potential if you become disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish, such as anxiety or depression
- Loss of companionship with family members
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of function of a limb
The total cost of these damages can add up quickly. Thankfully, Georgia law is on your side. With the help of a skilled dog bite lawyer, you can make a claim against the dog owner’s insurance for everything you have paid and suffered.
This includes situations when the dog attacks the victim without provocation and when a dog bites someone outside the owner’s property, such as on a street, sidewalk, or in a park.
How Do I Get a Good Settlement for My Dog Bite Injuries?
Because insurance companies employ teams of lawyers to poke holes in your claim, you need an experienced dog bite lawyer who knows their tricks and how to push back. Your attorney can make sure the dog owner’s insurer does not take advantage of your vulnerable situation and pressure them to pay out what you actually deserve. Your lawyer will help you collect evidence showing proof of your injuries and the fault of everyone responsible for your harm, including:
- Medical records
- Photos of your injuries
- Photos of the animal, showing whether it was wearing a leash
- Photos of the kennel or fence meant to contain the dog
- History of previous attacks
- Animal control contact records for the owner and dog
- Witness testimony of the attack
- Security or other video footage of the attack
- Doctor reports about future medical costs, disability, and long-term prognosis
You can use this evidence to thoroughly document how the attack happened and show the owner’s liability. Your insurance claim will need to include:
- Presentation of Georgia dog bite law
- Medical evidence of your injuries and other relevant evidence
- Demand of payment based on your damages and losses
Even with plenty of evidence, the dog owner’s insurance company may deny your initial claim or try to offer you a lowball offer in a lump sum upfront. This is a common tactic, and the goal is to get you to accept a smaller settlement and close the case. Never accept the first offer because you cannot reopen the claim later on if you find your medical costs have increased.
The experienced dog bite lawyers at John Foy & Associates will fight for your rights as a victim. They will present the evidence and calculate a fair settlement value based on your costs and other losses, including emotional pain and suffering. Our attorneys are prepared to proceed to trial, if necessary, to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Does Georgia Follow the “One-Bite Rule?”
The “one-bite rule” is commonly used in many states, and it allows an owner to possibly avoid liability if their dog has never bitten anyone before. However, Georgia uses a modified one-bite rule that holds the owner at fault if they are careless about keeping their dog leashed or contained or if the attack was unprovoked. Victims have better flexibility with this modification and can more easily show that a dog was dangerous.
A dog might show aggressive behaviors but not have actually bitten someone. With proof, such as witness testimony or video of the dog, a dog bite victim can demonstrate the animal should be considered a danger to others, and the owner can be held liable. Of course, any past evidence or insurance claims where the dog did bite a person can be helpful.
These items can give you substantial proof that the owner should have known of the risk and taken precautions to prevent an attack. Regardless of whether a state has a one-bite rule or not, dog owners have the responsibility to expect that their dog may bite someone under the right circumstances.
Citizens have the right to expect that they can travel freely without fear of being attacked by an animal and injured. When these two things collide, your dog bite lawyer will help you determine who is at fault and how you can seek justice.
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How Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Help Me?
Your dog bite attorney will help you understand if you have a legal claim against the dog owner and anyone else who might be liable for the attack. Your attorney’s legal team can gather evidence on your behalf so you can focus on healing from your injuries. Your lawyer will contact and negotiate with insurance companies to achieve the most favorable settlement for you.
Hiring a dog bite lawyer gives you access to a group of professionals who will assess your situation, connect you with the right doctors for your injuries, and take the burden of handling the claim off your shoulders. They will guide you if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, explaining the legal and financial concerns you may face.
Your dog bite lawyer will also keep you on schedule to ensure you file your case before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations in Georgia for dog bite claims is two years from the date of the attack, but there are other important deadlines you will need to meet. Your lawyer will communicate these with you and keep you on track.
Get in Touch with a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
When something goes wrong and an animal attacks, you or your loved one could be left with a lifetime of pain and injury. Depending on your situation, the lawyers of John Foy & Associates will help you navigate the legal system to defend your rights and recover what you are owed.
We have a 20+ year record of standing up to insurance companies to get victims the reimbursement they deserve. We offer a no-risk, no-obligation case review to listen to your story and explain your options. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.