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Atlanta Dog Bite and Attack Attorney

Dog Bite And Attack Cases In The Metropolitan Atlanta Area

Nearly one thousand people are bitten or attacked by a dog each day across the United States. Sometimes, such attacks give rise to civil liability and sometimes they don’t. Our Atlanta personal injury law firm helps dog attack victims determine whether or not their particular situation is one where the dog owner might be held liable.

Understanding Dog Bites and Attacks

First, which dogs are most likely to bite? Of course, any dog might bite or attack, but some breeds are statistically more dangerous.There are approximately 4.5 million dog bites per year. Dog breeds that have shown the highest propensity to bite include Chihuahuas, bulldogs, pit bulls and German shepherds, among others.

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons. A dog may feel threatened, fearful or ill. A dog may nip or bite to protect themselves or their owners. A dog may also attack because it is reacting to a situation it deems stressful. Most dogs will give warning signals before they bite but, unfortunately, that isn’t true in every case.

Determining Liability

How do you determine whether or not the owner of a dog might be liable for injuries, medical care, and emotional trauma that often follow attacks? First, it is important to know that Georgia does not have a “strict liability” law for dog bites (as do some states). That simply means that, in Georgia, just because a dog bites someone, the owner is not always liable.

When might be the owner liable? When the dog owner knows, or should know, that the dog has vicious propensities (i.e., the dog is mean, aggressive, prone to biting, or has attacked before), that owner may be held liable. Second, if the dog was required by City or County ordinance to be on a leash, and it wasn’t when it attacked, liability may arise.

Investigating a Bite

Lawyers who handle dog bite and attack cases in Georgia have a variety of ways to investigate whether or not a particular dog has been a problem before an attack. Local governmental agencies like Animal Control, Police, and Fire Departments often have records on prior dog attack calls, categorized by address. In addition, we may send an investigator out to a neighborhood in order to interview witnesses regarding knowledge of a dog’s history. You would be surprised how word spreads throughout a community once a dog attacks. Likewise, our law firm investigates owners and their dogs using various legal websites and research engines. In fact, in one case, we uncovered a blog written by an owner who had been attacked by her own dog before that same dog attacked our five-year-old client and caused serious injuries.

A real and practical concern for many dog bite victims in the Georgia is whether the homeowner or renter has any insurance. Generally, it is quite difficult to recover money for dog attacks (or any other kind of personal injury) direct from the assets of the responsible person. Fortunately, most homeowners and renters carry insurance, which usually provides coverage for attacks/bites by their pets.

Injuries That May Occur

Dog attacks often results in substantial skin lacerations, which may require the attention of a plastic surgeon. Depending upon the area of the body injured, resulting scarring (particularly in children) may result in substantial emotional trauma. There is a tremendous amount of study and literature devoted to the psychological effect of scarring on young children.

Our law firm has represented many victims of dog bites and we welcome the chance to investigate those cases. While pitbulls are the breed of dog normally associated with attacks, there are many breeds that cause injury to humans when not appropriately leashed or supervised.

The “First Bite” Rule

The state of Georgia generally follows what is known as the “first bite” rule in determining whether a dog owner has sufficient knowledge that his dog has the propensity to bite or attack someone. It is important to keep in mind that, contrary to the name, the “first bite” rule does not “literally require a first bite.” What is important, and what gives rise to liability, is a dog owner’s prior knowledge that the dog has the propensity to do the particular act (biting or attacking) which caused injury. Therefore, to hold a dog owner liable for monetary damages, the injured party must show that the dog had the propensity to bite or attack and that the owner had knowledge of that propensity.

How do you prove what the dog owner knew? Georgia courts have held that “[I]n order to infer the requisite knowledge there must be at least one incident that would cause a prudent person to anticipate the actual incident that caused the injury.” In plain English, that means that prior to the bite or attack at issue, the injured party must be able to prove that on at least one occasion the dog exhibited behavior which should have alerted the owner that it had the propensity to bite or attack.

There are numerous leash and dog constraint ordinances that vary by the particular locality (county, city). When investigating a dog bite or attack case, it is vital to determine:

  • who owned the dog,
  • who owned the property where the attack occurred,
  • what insurance companies may cover the dog/property owner,
  • whether the dog should have been on a leash, and
  • whether the person handling the dog had appropriate control.

It also may be important to investigate whether the dog had escaped from the particular property before the bite or attack at issue and if any efforts were made to adequately contain the animal.

O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 deals with “vicious animals” and the liability which may attach if such an animal is allowed to escape, roam free, or be off leash.

How an Atlanta Dog Bite and Attack Attorney Can Help You

We understand the emotional and physical toll a dog bite or attack can take on a victim and their family. We will investigate the incident and stand by your side as together we hold the owner liable. At the Law Offices of Andrew Goldner, LLC, we have experience assisting victims of dog attacks in Atlanta, and we will put that knowledge to work for you. Call our office today at (404) 869-1580 or contact us online to arrange a case evaluation. If you have been attacked, time is of the essence when it comes to seeking compensation.

O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 deals with “vicious animals” and the liability which may attach if such an animal is allowed to escape, roam free, or be off leash.

Law Offices of Andrew Goldner, LLC

1040 Crown Pointe Pkwy #800
Atlanta, GA30338

Phone: (404) 869-1580
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Law Offices of Andrew E. Goldner, LLC

Main Office
1600 Parkwood Circle
Suite 330
Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone: 404.869.1580
Fax: 404.393.1099

Marietta Office:
531 Roselane St NW Suite 400-220, Marietta, GA 30060
Phone: (404) 400-7385

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