In 2003 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study regarding the number of reported dog bite injuries in the United States. The report concluded that in 1994 alone there were over 4.7 million dog bites. Most involved injuries like punctures and lacerations but some advanced to infection, cellulitis and even amputation. Many required surgery, left scars and even required the victim to undergo painful treatment against rabies. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite, contact our law firm today for a free consultation about your personal injury claim.
For more statistics on the public safety issue caused by dangerous dogs and particular breeds see; www.dogsbite.org
When a vicious animal bites or injures another person in Georgia, the owner or keeper of that animal can be held responsible, especially when they allow the animal to run loose, either intentionally or by careless management. They can also be held responsible for damages if they knew that the animal had a tendency to bite or attack. For this reason it is important to contact an experienced attorney when a dog bite injury occurs.
Dog Owners Can Be Held Liable for Dog Bite Injuries
While dogs are not automatically considered vicious or dangerous animals, this can be proven on a case by case basis. Proof usually comes from evidence of a prior bite or an attempted bite which placed the owner on notice that the dog had violent tendencies. This makes it possible to hold the owner responsible when injuries occur. The true test of liability is usually the owner’s superior knowledge of the dog’s vicious temperament.
While proof of the dog’s prior bites and dangerous tendencies is always important, it is not always easy to find. Often the owner says the dog has never bitten anyone before. If that is true, it may be difficult to hold them responsible for your injuries. So how do you know if the owner is telling the truth or just trying to avoid responsibility?
Why You Need an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer by Your Side
Hiring an experienced dog bite lawyer to handle your case is a big advantage. The lawyers at Burnside Law Firm are prepared to investigate your dog bite case in an effort to determine if the dog has demonstrated vicious tendencies before and if the owner knew about it. This often requires talking to neighbors, utility workers, postal employees and others who have encountered the dog before. All of these can be valuable sources of information.
Another way is to request records from the dog’s veterinarian. If, for example, those records show that they required the dog to be muzzled on each visit because it tried to bite the vet or his staff before, that can be used to help prove that the owner knew the dog would bite. Records from the local animal control or police department can also reveal prior occurrences.
In short, each case must be investigated thoroughly to determine if the dog has exhibited aggressive or vicious behavior before. For this reason, you need an experienced dog bite attorney at your side.
Violation of a Local Leash Law Can Serve as Proof of Vicious Propensity
Georgia law states that in proving vicious propensity it shall be sufficient to show that the dog was required by city or county ordinance to be on a leash at the time of the occurrence. Therefore, a dog owner may be liable where their dog is not properly restrained, in violation of a local ordinance or leash law, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. Researching the local leash laws in your area can be critical to your case. You can find the Augusta-Richmond County animal ordinances at http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/View/753.
Some things to keep in mind if you have suffered a dog bite:
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately: It is difficult to tell if a dog that has bitten you has rabies. Often, dog owners fail to keep vaccinations current. Additionally, a dog’s mouth may contain harmful bacteria that can spread to your blood stream causing an infection. As such, it is best to seek immediate medical treatment to ensure you have not been exposed to rabies and to have medical personnel evaluate the wound to determine what medical care is necessary. Further, immediate emergency medical treatment after a dog bite will help to document your injuries.
Report the Bite: Call animal control or the police to have an investigation started. This will help to further document the claim and will help determine if the dog has the proper vaccinations. It may also prevent someone else being injured by the same dog.
Photograph Your Injuries: It is important to document the extent of your injuries. Juries and insurance adjusters expect to see photos of the wound to establish the seriousness of the dog bite, the pain that was caused, and the recovery period.
Get names and addresses: The identity of the dog owner and the location where the dog was staying are critical elements to pursuing a claim. This is another reason you should always report the claim to the proper government agency.
How Much Can You Recover for Your Dog Bite Claim?
If liability can be established against the owner of the dog that bit you, then you may be entitled to recover for all injuries and damages proximately caused by the owner’s negligence. This typically includes such things as medical expenses, lost wages, mental and physical pain and suffering, physical disfigurement and scarring and permanent disability. If you live in Augusta, Athens, Atlanta or the surrounding areas, find out more about what damages you may be entitled to recover by contacting one of our experienced dog bite attorneys today.
How Will You Get Paid for the Injuries and Damages You Suffered?
Establishing a right to recover for the injuries and damages you have suffered from a dog bite is only half the battle. You must also identify a source from which to recover the money necessary to compensate you for those injuries. Potential sources may include:
- Homeowners Insurance
- Renters Insurance
- Medical Payments Coverage
- Personal assets of the dog owner
Identifying all sources of funds available to compensate for your injuries and losses may require an experienced dog bite lawyer. So contact us today for a free consultation.