One common legal issue that our Greenville dog bite law firm comes across is the liability of a tenant’s vicious dog attack on another individual. While in many states, landlords could be held responsible for a tenant’s dog attack, Georgia’s laws work fairly different in these situations. In most cases, usually the dog owner is liable for dog bite damages in Georgia.
Therefore, a landlord technically cannot be held legally responsible for an aggressive dog bite. However, there are some exceptions to this rule in Georgia.
In Many States Landlord Liability Is Common
In many states across the nation, courts will allow victims of a dog bite to sue for compensation and damages, usually if the landlord knew the animal was dangerous and possessed the power to have the dog removed from the premises.
In Georgia, it is fairly uncommon for courts to rule in the favor of victims who have been bitten by another tenant’s dog, even if the landlord knew that the animal was potentially dangerous.In a majority of similar cases, Georgia courts have not been swayed to this standpoint.
Georgia Courts Usually Follow A Specific Landmark Case
It has already been mentioned that landlords cannot be held liable for dog attacks. The basis of this standpoint is derived from OCGA § 44-7-14, which plainly reads,
“Having fully departed with possession and the right of possession, the landlord is not responsible to third persons for damages resulting from the negligence or illegal use of the premises by the tenant; provided, however, the landlord is responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair.”
In summation, this excerpt reaffirms that landlords are not responsible for their tenant’s dog attacks. This same statute was used in the case of Younger v. Dunagan to effectively present the stance of Georgia courts on the issue of landlord liability.
In this case, James Younger filed a lawsuit when he was injured by a dog while he was attempting to deliver mail to a residence. Younger sued the landlord and the tenant, but the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the landlord after citing OCGA § 44-7-14.
By this standard, landlords won’t usually be held accountable for their tenant’s dog. Though, there is an exception, according to our dog bite attorneys.
Landlords Can Potentially Face Liability
Given the aforementioned statute, there is potentiality for a landlord to be held liable for a dog attack. As per OCGA § 44-7-14, the last phrase clearly reads,
“. . .however, the landlord is responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair.”
In accordance with this phrase, it’s fairly possible to file a lawsuit against a landlord if their defective property contributed to the attack. For example, a vicious dog was able to attack you because of a broken fence that the landlord knew about, you could sue for damages citing OCGA § 44-7-14. However, these types of special situations are almost always reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, a landlord cannot be held responsible for their tenant’s dog. Nonetheless, if you are the victim of a vicious dog attack and believe that your case should be heard, you should consult with a dog bite lawyer to see if your potential case if applicable to Georgia’s laws.