We love our dogs here at The Casto Law Firm, but our attorneys also know that dog bites are a serious public safety concern in Columbus and throughout Georgia.
Dog attacks are a bigger problem than you may think. They leave victims – often children — emotionally and physically scarred, affecting them on a very personal level. Our dog bite attorneys understand what it takes to build a strong case for compensation to help dog bite victims.
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, you should speak with our attorneys about your options. You can reach us at 706-940-4030 or contact us online.
Dog Bite Statistics
Just how problematic are dog bites? Take a look at some of these statistics:
- More than 800,000 Americans receive medical treatment for dog bites every year, according to the American Veterinary Association.
- About half of all dog bite victims are 13 years old or younger.
- Senior citizens are the most likely to die in a dog attack. In 2014, 75 percent of adults killed in dog attacks were at least 50.
Dog bites leave victims with terrible damage: In 2012, nearly 28,000 victims had reconstructive surgery because of injuries caused by a dog, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Georgia Dog Bite Laws
In Georgia, the current dog bite statute is more favorable for dog owners than victims of dog bites. The burden is on the victim to prove that the dog was dangerous and the owner was negligent in their duty as a pet owner.
For a better understanding of how the law works in our state, here are some summaries of dangerous dog laws in Georgia:
- A dangerous dog is defined as one that, without provocation, aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of humans.
- It is illegal to possess a dangerous dog in Georgia unless without a certificate of registration, which is issued in accordance with specific provisions.
- The owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog is solely liable for an injury or death of a person caused by the dog.
Georgia’s Dog Bite Statute
Here is Georgia’s dog bite statute, 51-2-7, in full:
“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 law goes on say that animal owners can be found liable if three elements are proven:
- The victim must prove the animal is dangerous.
- The owner/defendant knew the animal was dangerous.
- The owner/defendant carelessly watched over the animal or allowed it to go out on its own.
The statute requires further proof of two elements:
- The victim must prove the animal was not at heel or on a leash at the time of the attack.
- The defendant/owner carelessly managed the animal.
Dog Bite Negligence in Georgia
It was not until recently that Georgia law declared that dog owners whose negligence causes a dog attack could be held liable. Previously, each dog was allowed one attack on a person, no matter how vicious the attack was, before the dog was considered dangerous.
When it comes to dog bites, Georgia is a negligence state. This means that in order to prove liability, an injured person must prove an animal’s owner knew the animal was vicious or dangerous, and that the owner acted without reasonable care to restrain the animal or protect other people.
Georgia law specifies that a leash ordinance may be used to prove a dog has vicious propensities. This means that if you are walking down a road where dogs are required to be on a leash and an unleashed dog bites you, that is enough to prove the dog was “vicious” in the eyes of the law.
Types of Dog Bites
Here are the most common dog bite injuries our lawyers see:
- Disfigurement that requires reconstructive surgery
- Severe cuts that require surgery
- Severe scarring
- Broken bones
What to Do If You Have Been Bitten by A Dog
Here is a rough guideline to follow if you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog:
- Get medical attention as soon as possible, even if your injuries do not seem serious. In addition to medical care, this will provide documentation of your injuries, which you will need to file a successful claim.
- Keep any clothing that may have been torn during the attack. Take pictures of your injuries and get information from the dog’s owner, including the owner’s name and address and the name of the dog.
- Contact animal control, as they will test the dog for rabies and perhaps issue a citation to the dog’s owner. Also, they will help obtain eye witness contact information.
- Lastly, be sure to contact an experienced dog bite injury lawyer at The Casto Law Firm.
Proving Your Georgia Dog Bite Case
Only an experienced dog bite attorney with a proven record of success will be able to build a case strong enough to get you what you need in this difficult time. Our attorneys will talk with neighbors, friends, arrange for expert testimony and do whatever we need to do in order to build you the strongest possible case.