If you are bitten by a dog, then the owner should be liable to pay damages. However, since our state’s laws are less strict compared to other US states, you will need an experienced Jonesboro personal injury lawyer to help you file a dog bite claim.
Here are the most important things to know if you need to file a claim against a dog owner.
Georgia Applies a Modified One Bite Rule
In Georgia, all dogs are considered harmless unless proven otherwise. Thus, you cannot use the dog breed alone to prove that a dog was vicious and the owner is liable.
According to the one-bite rule, a dog owner should have known their pet was dangerous after they bit one person. In some states, this means the owner usually can’t be sued for the first time a dog bites.
Georgia’s dog bite law gives victims more flexibility in proving fault. An owner should know a dog is dangerous or vicious after one bite. However, your lawyer can also win the case by showing that the owner didn’t follow local regulations requiring people to keep dogs at heel or on a leash.
Fortunately, the city of Jonesboro has an official regulation stating that any person in control of an animal must keep it under restraint within the city. This extends the category of liable persons beyond the dog owners to:
- Hired dog walkers
- Any person entrusted by the owner with the dog.
How to Prove Negligence in a Dog Bite Case
As the local statutes specify, a dog must be restrained within the city. Thus, if you suffered a dog bite in a park or on the street, the fact that the animal was not restrained is sufficient evidence.
But what happens if you were bitten at the dog owner’s property? In this situation, you may file a claim under the premises liability statute, which charges all owners to keep their premises safe for invitees or licensees.
However, you will need an experienced Jonesboro personal injury attorney to prove your case, because dog owners (and their insurance company) often invoke defenses such as:
- You were taunting or provoking the dog.
- You were trespassing on the property.
What to Do After a Dog Attacks You
To strengthen your dog bite case, you need to present as much evidence as possible. For this reason, you should strive to follow these steps:
- Take photos of the dog proving that it was not restrained.
- Take photos of your injuries.
- Find any eyewitnesses who saw the dog attacking you.
- Go immediately to the nearest hospital for medical care.
Once you are released from the hospital, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. The attorney will continue investigating your case and looking for more evidence against the dog owner, such as:
- Animal Control reports that the dog attacked other people or their pets.
- Talking to the owner’s neighbors about the behavior of the dog.
- Finding past instances of dog bite claims against the owner.
Types of Compensation in a Dog Bite Claim
Depending on the severity, dog bites can cause injuries that require more than a few stitches. You may have to undergo surgery, spend days or weeks in hospital, and follow various treatments and therapies.
All these result in expensive medical care costs, which you can claim in your demand letter. You can also seek compensation for lost wages and property damage (damaged clothing, a watch, a smartphone, etc.). All these represent the economic damages.
Apart from these, you are also entitled to compensation for non-economic damages, representing:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Who Will Pay for Your Damages?
The homeowner’s insurance policy is the main source of compensation for dog bite victims. If the dog owner does not have this kind of insurance, you may sue them directly for damages.
Georgia requires owners of vicious dogs to carry $50,000 in liability insurance. A vicious dog is defined as a dog that has killed or caused severe injuries to a person in the past.
Schedule a Free Case Review with a Jonesboro Dog Bite Lawyer!
At Wade Law, you will find a dedicated team of attorneys with a combined experience of over 70 years, whose goal is to help every client obtain fair compensation. If you were bitten by a dog, we will hold its owner liable for your economic and non-economic damages.
Any Jonesboro personal injury lawyer at our firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees until we win your case. We also offer each new client a free case review, so call us today at 770-282-1188!