Millions of Americans are bitten by dogs every year. While many of these bites are not particularly serious, these dog bites result in hundred of thousands of emergency room visits. Some of these attacks result in very serious injury and sometimes even death. The CDC estimates that the yearly national death toll from dog attacks is around two dozen. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite an experienced Atlanta dog bite attorney can help. Holding the dog owner responsible for your injuries can be very complex. This is especially true in the state of Georgia, where the law is considered are more favorable for dog owners. This makes a qualified dog bite attorney even more important.I’ve Been The Victim Of A Dog Attack, What Do I Do First?
If you have been attacked by a dog or another animal, it is always important to identify the animal that bit you. If you have been attacked by a dog or other animal that is owned by another individual, you may be entitled to compensation. If there were witnesses to the attack, make sure you make contact with these people and that you collect their contact information. Take photographs of any and all wounds caused by the attack.
What Should I Do During A Dog Attack?
If you are being attacked remain calm. If you panic, you may give the dog confidence or you may appear threatening to the dog.
- Attempt to take control by commanding "down" or "go home, " while attempting to back away.
- Do not run, this will excite the dog and you cannot outrun a dog.
- Assume a non-threatening position by standing sideways to the dog instead of facing the dog and making eye contact. Clench your fists to protect your fingers.
- Hold your position because dogs have a short attention span and may lose interest.
- Stay still and protect your face, chest and throat. If the dog is biting, do not struggle or pull away- this can cause open, torn wounds.
- Use any object you may have to attempt to get the dog to latch onto it rather than yourself. An umbrella is a great source.
- If the dog does get a hold of you, fighting back is the best bet. Use your entire body weight on the animal, especially with your knees and elbows.
- If there are multiple dogs- go for the eyes, nose and limbs.
- If a dog has locked onto another animal or human, pick up its back legs and hold it in the air to keep it from pulling, ripping and causing more damage.
What Should I Do After A Dog Attack?
If you are the victim of an attack you need to:
- Report the incident to the owner, animal control and the proper authorities.
- Seek medical treatment, what does not appear serious could become infected or result in nerve damage or scarring.
- Take photographs of all injuries.
- Make sure the animal has had proper and current vaccinations.
- Obtain the homeowners information for the dog owner, the name, policy number and agent for the policy.
- If the owner is renting the home, obtain information about the owner, their homeowner's coverage and a copy of the lease agreement.
- Do you have knowledge that the animal has attacked another person or animal in the past? Our attorneys can help you investigate and develop most of this information; your most important steps are to report the incident, get medical attention, photograph all injuries, and confirm that the animal has had proper and current vaccinations.
Understanding Georgia Dog Bite Law
Georgia law protects dog bite victims by providing two ways an animal owner can be held liable for injuries caused by their dogs:
- The "one bite rule"- the victim should show that the animal was dangerous or vicious, that the dog owner had knowledge of this propensity, and the owner either carelessly managed the animal or allowed it to go at liberty.
- The "ordinance rule"- requires proof that the animal was not at heel or on a leash, as required by local ordinance, and the dog owner either carelessly managed the animal or allowed it to go at liberty. (violation of the leash law)
What constitutes a violation of the leash law will vary from county to county as leash laws are under the umbrella of ordinances enforced by the county. Georgia’s dog bite statute is considered more favorable to dog owners. This is due to the fact that in one of the two conditions, you have to prove that the dog was dangerous and the owner knew the dog was dangerous at the time of the bite.
In 2012, three years after an especially brutal dog attack, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the Georgia Responsible Dog Owner Act. The key changes in the act relate to the way in which a dangerous dog is defined in Georgia. A dangerous dog is considered a dog that causes a substantial wound to a person or aggressively acts a person posing an threat of serious injury. Dangerous dogs are no longer allowed off the owner’s property unless they are completely restrained the entire time. Once a dog is listed as a dangerous dog with the state, it does not get a second chance if it attacks a person and the owner must maintain at least fifty thousand dollars worth of insurance on the dog.What Our Georgia Dog Bite Attorneys Will do For You
An experienced Georgia dog bite lawyer can help you with the process no matter what the details may be regarding your dog attack. You will want to consider retaining a Georgia dog bite attorney before you participate in any legal proceedings and before speaking with an insurance company or anyone else. Most of the time, a dog owner will have insurance. If this is the case, expect a call from the insurance company. They will ask to talk about your claim. If this happens to you, ask for the name of the insurance company, the telephone number, claim number, name of the person, and the address of the insurance company’s office. Never talk about money or any type of settlement. Further do not set up any meeting without a qualified attorney to represent you. The insurance company is trying to limit their liability and reduce their expenses. They are not on your side, they have a team of lawyers and agents, whose sole job is to limit how much money you collect. You need to even the playing field with an experienced attorney, do not go against the big insurance companies alone.
What Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
There’s no way to put a specific figure on your case without a detailed study of the case by experienced dog attack attorney. A victim of a dog bite can seek several types of compensation including for all scars, current and future medical costs, emotional distress, and any other factors related to the attack. One thing that is clear is that an insurance company will do their best not to pay you what your case is truly worth. Dog bite cases can be complicated and many insurance companies will not pay a settlement request until the person bitten retains a lawyer. In most cases a lawyer is necessary to represent victims in dog bite cases so that their rights are protected.Preventing Dog Bites; Important Safety Tips And Legal Information Dog Owners
The ultimate goal for dog bite laws are responsibility and protecting the innocent. If you have an animal, you need to provide the necessary health care and training to control the animal.
- If you have a dog behind a fence- how secure is the fence, has it been maintained, is the gate secure, would others (service people) be likely not to close the gate securely?
- If the dog is chained, how secure is the chain and collar?
- Do you have control of the animal when walking it, does it need a muzzle?
- If your dog is a house dog, do you have measures in place to keep the dog from "darting" out the door when someone opens the door?
- When you have visitors, do you have control of your dog? Do you know how your dog reacts to certain stimuli? (children, loud noises, sudden movement, other animals, etc)
Dog Owners In Georgia Have Legal Responsibilities
- A dog owner must keep dangerous dogs and potentially dangerous dogs either securely confined indoors or confined outdoors in a securely enclosed and locked pen, fence, or structure that prevents entry of young children, as well as escape of the animal. When outside the enclosure, the dog must be muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and be under the physical restraint of a responsible person.
- A dog owner must register their dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs with the state
- Owners must post their property with a clearly-visible sign that warns people of the dog's presence. The state has a uniform symbol that must be placed on the sign.
- Owners must maintain liability insurance of at least $15,000 for personal injuries inflicted by the dog or a surety bond of $15,000 or more payable to any person injured by the dog.
Unfortunately, dog bites remain very common and can have serious consequences, including permanent disfigurement, nerve and tissue damage and psychological trauma. In extreme cases, dog attacks may result in death. In either case you will need the help of an experienced dog bite injury attorney. The Angell Law Firm has almost 20 years of trial experience successfully representing our clients. Contact The Angell Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.