Georgia Dog Bite Laws: Steps In The Legal Process
Your losses can be considerable after being bitten or otherwise injured by a dog, and the physical pain is just the beginning. Many victims will require emergency care, hospitalization, and extensive surgery to repair the damage, racking up huge medical bills. You might miss work because of your injuries, losing out on wages you could have earned. Plus, there are many losses that impact your quality of life after an animal attack. There are multiple theories of liability you can pursue if you were bitten or injured by a dog, including Georgia’s dog bite statute, the “one-bite” rule, and negligence principles.
The legal foundation is different for each of these theories, and there are specific elements you need to prove depending upon the facts in your case. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney about Georgia dog bite laws, since representation is crucial for ensuring you receive fair compensation for your losses. However, the legal process for a dog bite claim is generally the same and works as follows.
Filing an Insurance Claim: Homeowners’ insurance aims to protect the policyholder from liability in accidents, and dog bites typically fall under this coverage. Much like you would do after being hurt in an auto crash, you file a claim under the owner’s insurance policy. The process is more extensive than just filling out some forms, and insurers often contest these claims on the grounds that:
- The policy contains a loophole for dog bites and animal attacks;
- You provoked the animal; or,
- You were not injured badly.
Settlement Discussions: The insurance company will often make a counteroffer in response to your claim, which is essentially an invitation to enter into negotiations. Many dog bite claims settle instead of going to court, but an agreement that does not fully compensate you for your losses is not wise.
Mediation: The parties can voluntarily agree to participate in mediation, and it may be required by the court if you file a lawsuit as described below. Mediation takes the concept of settlement a step further, since the proceeding is overseen by a professional who is specially trained to facilitate agreement.
Even if you thought settlement was not possible during negotiations with the insurer, it may be possible to compromise when the parties engage in productive conversations guided by the mediator. Mediation is not binding, so you can still sue in court.
Litigation: The settlement discussions break down and mediation was not productive, filing a civil lawsuit is the next step in the process. Your lawyer will handle court appearances, motions, discovery, and depositions during the proceedings, and settlement is still an option. The final stage is a trial, where you will present exhibits, testimony, and arguments to support your claim.
Talk to a Skilled Attorney About the Legal Process Under Georgia Dog Bite Laws
It is helpful to know the basic steps when seeking compensation in a dog bite case, but you can trust Zagoria Law to handle the details. To learn more, please call 404.653.0023 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta dog bite attorney.