Georgia Dog And Animal Bite Lawyer

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Unlike in many states, Georgia's dog bite statute tends to favor dog owners over dog bite victims. In order to make a dog bite claim, the Georgia dog bite statute demands that the victim have proof of more than one ground for liability. Most other states require only proof of a single ground.

The statute outlines two ways in which the owner or handler of a dog can be found liable for injuries which the animal inflicts while in his or her care. The scienter ground requires the victim to prove that the animal was dangerous or vicious, that the defendant had a degree of knowledge (which was traditionally called scienter) which was requisite, and that the defendant allowed the animal to roam at liberty or otherwise carelessly managed it. The ordinance ground requires two elements to be proven: that the animal was not restrained or at heel as required by local ordinance, and that the defendant carelessly managed the animal or allowed it to go at liberty. This ground does not require knowledge of the animal's dangerousness or viciousness.

In other words, liability can be proved through proving either liability of the leash law or the dog owner's knowledge of the dog's propensity or temperament that might lead to biting.

Georgia's dog bite law is strict and dog owners are liable to the injured in the event that it was their dog that bit the injured individual. This means that no matter what occurred, the owner of the dog is always liable even if that same dog has bitten no one else. With nearly 5 million attacks involving dogs each year, from minor bites and scratches to vicious attacks that could result in death it is no wonder hospitals around the country collectively report roughly 1,000 emergency visits per day due to dog bites. While death occurs in less than 100 of the reported dog bites that occur across America annually, dog bites that require hospitalization are all too common.

With the exception of local leash laws' violations, the Georgia dog bite statute codifies the one-bite rule, otherwise known as the first-bite rule, which is a tradition that the owner of a dog or other animal cannot be held legally responsible for the first time the animal bites a person, since they did not have prior knowledge of the dog's propensity to do so. Nevertheless, appellate court decisions have declared that constructive knowledge, based on the owner's understanding of his dog's temperament and his previous behavior, shall be enough to prove liability if a) the dog has previously demonstrated vicious behavior, such as baring fangs, growling and barking; and b) the owner or keeper could have reasonably known that the dog might eventually bite a human. There have been several cases that center around a dog's aggressive behavior having been enough to demonstrate that the dog might be prone to human bites, despite not having had a previous history of biting.

Dog and animal bites can be painful and emotionally traumatizing, and they can also put you at risk for developing one or more bacterial infections. One such infection that can be contracted from a dog bite is a bacterial strain known as MRSA. It is resistant to antibiotics, and has been contracted by patients in hospitals. Other serious infections can occur from a bite, even though the wound may not look serious. When a dog bite occurs, bacteria can be planted deep into joint and tendon spaces, and despite the wound having been cleaned at the time of the bite, a bacterial infection can crop up later.

If you have experienced a dog bite in the state of Georgia, you may have many questions about your legal rights and responsibilities. A personal injury attorney, especially one who specializes in dog and animal bite cases, will be able to answer your questions and help you determine whether or not you have a valid case. Visit the website of the American Bar Association or the Georgia Bar Association to find an attorney who has experience in handling dog and animal attack cases.


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