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Atlanta Injury Lawyer > Georgia Dog Bite Laws

Georgia Dog Bite Laws

Most personal injury negligence claims follow the same pattern; you have to prove the other party owed you a duty of care, they neglected that duty, their negligence caused you to suffer an injury, and you incurred financial loss or other harm because of it. Dog bite cases are also negligence claims, but they have their own set of laws with unique steps required to prove a case and different defenses a defendant might put up to avoid liability. For these reasons, it’s essential to get an experienced dog bite attorney on your side if you or a loved one was attacked or bitten by a vicious or dangerous dog. The success of your case can depend on it.

Atlanta attorney David Zagoria wrote the book on Georgia dog bite law and handles more dog bite cases every year than any other lawyer around. If you suffered a dog bite injury in metro Atlanta, call Zagoria Law at 404-653-0023 for a free consultation and immediate assistance getting the care and compensation you need and deserve.

Georgia Law on Vicious or Dangerous Dogs

Georgia has a law, section 51-2-7 of the Georgia Code, which imposes liability for injuries caused by vicious animals. This law states:

“A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured. In proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated fowl including roosters with spurs. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated livestock.”

In other words, to hold a dog owner accountable for a dog bite under this law, you have to be able to prove all of the following:

  • The dog was “vicious” or “dangerous”
  • The owner was careless in managing the pet or allowed it to roam free
  • The dog caused an injury
  • The victim did not provoke the attack

If these facts can be proven, the owner may be “liable in damages” to the injury victim. “Damages” under the law can include medical bills for treatment after the injury and going forward related to the injury, lost income for time the victim missed work due to the injury, diminished earning capacity if the victim became disabled from working due to the injury, pain and suffering, mental anguish or emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and other legal damages recognized under the law.

Proving Liability Under Georgia Dog Bite Law

In the law quoted above, the phrase “may be liable” was changed from “shall be liable” in 1985 to make it clear that the legal standard in Georgia is negligence and not strict liability. In some states, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets, meaning injury victims don’t have to prove the owner was negligent. That is not the case here in Georgia, which makes dog bite cases in Georgia more difficult to bring and win. There are many ways to prove a dog owner was negligent, however, and as the leading dog bite injury law firm in Atlanta, the attorneys at Zagoria Law know how to successfully prove a case under the law.

In addition to proving the owner was negligent, dog bite victims must also prove the owner knew the dog was vicious or dangerous. Some people refer to this law as “one free bite” or the “one bite rule.” This rule implies that if the dog had never bitten before, then the owner could not be on notice that the dog was vicious or dangerous. This is not entirely correct, however. There are ways to show a dog had vicious propensities that the owner was aware of, even if the dog had never bitten or attacked before. Growling, snarling, nipping, snapping, scratching, barking, lunging, chasing and other acts of aggression may or may not be enough to show an animal had dangerous propensities. This is why it is essential to retain an experienced dog bite lawyer who knows what evidence is needed to bring a successful case against a dog owner.

Defenses to Dog Bite Cases

Finally, it’s important to note that Georgia dog bite law does not impose liability on a dog owner if the bite or attack was provoked. Is reaching out to pet an animal sufficient provocation to relieve the owner of liability? Does it matter how old the victim was or whether the victim already knew the dog? Dog owners and their insurers will try to say the attack was provoked in just about every case because it relieves them of their liability. At Zagoria Law, our experienced dog bite attorney is intimately familiar with provocation defenses and knows how to counter those arguments by applying Georgia dog bite law to the facts of the case.

Get the Best Help Available After a Dog Bite in Atlanta

Zagoria Law is the trusted law firm for the thousands of people who have suffered injuries after being bitten by a vicious or dangerous dog in metro Atlanta. We have recovered millions for dog bite victims in Atlanta and are on the phone or in court every day advocating forcefully and effectively on behalf of dog bite injury victims. If you, your child or another loved one has been attacked or bitten by a dangerous or vicious dog in Atlanta, call Zagoria Law at 404-653-0023 for a free consultation. There’s no fee unless we win compensation for you.

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