You were walking one day when suddenly, a dog jumped out and bit you. Perhaps you were at a friends’ house when their dog pounced on you. Or, maybe you were with your pup at the dog park when another dog attacked him, and you had to step in and stop the fight, getting bit by the other dog in the process.
No matter how you got your dog bite, there are laws on the books in Georgia to protect you. Following the proper steps, which include getting medical care and seeking the advice of a dog bite attorney, should be your top priorities at this time.
Georgia Laws on Dog Bites
Georgia’s dog bite law is under O.C.G.A. 51-2-7, and says that even if a dog bites you, that may not be enough to prove your case.
Under this code of law, to show that a dog’s owner was negligent and responsible for the bite, you need to demonstrate that the dog was vicious, the owner was careless with the dog and you did not provoke the dog into biting you. There is also a two-year statute of limitations, so if your dog bite occurred more than two years ago, your case will likely not hold up in court.
There are a number of instances in which a dog could be considered vicious, and in which its owner could be found negligent. For example, maybe the dog was known for growling at people, and the owner let it roam free on the street. The dog owner could have brought the dog to the dog park, where it’s known for attacking other dogs, and allowed it be there off-leash. Or, the dog owner could have invited you over and had the dog out, even though the dog had bitten someone before.
However, the owner would likely not be held liable if you were provoking the dog. Were you growling back at it, attempting to play with it even though it was growling at you, yelling at it unnecessarily or walking up to it and trying to pet it, even though it was on a leash in someone’s yard? These are all factors that would be weighed in a court of law.
Some defenses the owner might have include not knowing it was aggressive – either because it was never aggressive before or they just got the dog – the lease the dog was on broke, or they were alone in the dog park and didn’t see you entering in time. It will be up to the judge to determine who was right and who was wrong in these scenarios.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bites You
If a dog has bitten you, there are some critical steps you need to take right away.
First, collect information from the dog owner, including their name, address, and phone number, as well as their insurance information, like homeowners or renters insurance. Make sure you ask for proof that the dog received a rabies vaccination; if the dog did not, you would have to get treatment for that as soon as possible.
Since your dog bite could be infected, you need to go to the hospital right away and get treatment either way. Tell your doctor about any bruising or other wounds that you may have, as well as internal pain like a headache or backache. Make sure to monitor your health and write down any physical pain you feel from the bite overtime.
You should also take photos of your bite; just have a medical professional help you so you don’t take any chances with further harming yourself. For instance, you shouldn’t unwrap your gauze without the assistance of a doctor or nurse. Take any photos of torn clothes or bruises that may also have occurred because of the dog bite incident.
Make sure you report the incident to your local police in Georgia and call a non-emergency line if it’s not a life-threatening bite. You also need to call the local animal control hotline and tell them what happened. Reporting the incident to the police and animal control branch shows the court that you took all the right steps in protecting yourself as well as any future possible victims.
What Can Result from a Dog Bite Case?
If you end up in a dog bite lawsuit, you could be entitled to a few different types of compensation.
You could receive money to cover your medical bills, or any future medical bills for procedures you’ll need, like plastic surgery to cover up the bite. If you had to go to therapy to deal with trauma from getting bitten, you could get compensation for those bills as well as any future treatment you’ll have to go through.
If you had to take off from work since you got injured or couldn’t sell your home because you live near vicious dogs, then the court may grant you a settlement. You may get money if your quality of life suffered, you were humiliated because of how you looked following the dog bite or you experienced some sort of mental issues – such as anxiety or depression – because you were scared after the dog bite and didn’t want to go outside.
Realistically, all these factors could add up to a sizable settlement, as long as you’re able to prove negligence. You will either receive compensation from the animal owner’s insurance company or the owner, if they don’t have any type of insurance.
Finding Representation for Your Dog Bite Case
Once you’ve gone to the hospital, retrieved the owner’s information and reported the incident, it’s time to contact an experienced dog bite attorney in Atlanta who can represent you. Since you need to focus on healing right now, it’s best to leave your case in the hands of a professional who know the dog bite laws and can help you win your case. They will get you the compensation you deserve so you can go back to your normal life, pre-dog bite, in a timely manner.
If a dog bit you in Georgia, find out how a dog bite attorney can help you by contacting the Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Winston Briggs today here.