People love their pets, especially dogs, which are typically kind, loving creatures. However, they are still animals that could end up biting and injuring another person. While dog owners in some states are strictly held accountable if their pet harms another individual, other states have what is known as a “one bite rule,” which holds dog owners accountable regardless of whether or not they knew that their dog posed a threat to others. In the state of Georgia, dog owners are not strictly held responsible, but they could be liable if they aren’t taking proper care of their dangerous pets. Georgia’s rules are similar to a “one bite rule,” even though the state does not have this type of law on the books.
About Dangerous Dogs
A dangerous dog, as defined under the Responsible Dog Ownership Law in Georgia, is one that:
- Kills a pet or animal even if they are not on the dog owner’s property
- Aggressively attacks a person in such a way that they believe the animal posed a serious threat of harm to them or another person (the law does not apply if they are only showing teeth, growling, or barking)
- Punctures a person’s skin with its teeth, causing serious injury (the law does not apply if these are minor abrasions, scratches, or nips)
This law also defines a vicious dog as either inflicting serious injury to an individual attempting to break free from an attack or cause a severe injury to an individual. Any physical injury that puts a person at an increased risk of death, broken bones, severe cuts, surgery, or results in an infection or a damaged organ (prolonged health impairment) is deemed a serious injury.
The “One Bite Rule”
Each state’s laws regarding owner responsibility for dog bites vary. The “one bite rule” is a common law that is discussed often whenever a person is bitten by a dog. In most jurisdictions, this rule says that if an individual owns a domesticated animal, they can only be held responsible for injuries their pet caused if the owner was aware or should have been aware of the animal’s past vicious or dangerous behavior.
The “one bite rule” was founded on the belief that a dog owner shouldn’t be held responsible if it suddenly bit someone because they had no reason to believe that the dog was dangerous, to begin with. The owner will be put “on notice” once the dog has taken this action because they now have evidence that their dog poses a risk to others. If the dog bites another person, the dog owner will be held responsible for their injuries.
While a “One Bite Law” does not exist in the state of Georgia, if a dog attacks another person, the owner is usually put on notice regarding their dog’s dangerous behavior.
Dog Bites by Aggressive Breeds
If the dog is of a breed known for being dangerous or aggressive, this doesn’t mean that the owner won’t be put on notice. The dog’s behavior is more important than the breed. However, some places have enacted specific legislation that considers certain breeds to be dangerous. In these situations, it is more likely that an owner will be held responsible if their dog injures another person. A jury or a judge could have a bias towards some intimidating dogs that they wouldn’t have towards friendlier breeds such as golden or Labrador retrievers.
Georgia Dog Bite Liability
A person who owns a dangerous animal and fails to keep others who did not provoke the animal safe from it may be responsible for damages. Violations of specific county or city leash laws are also sufficient to prove that the owner was negligent, which takes the “One Bite Law” a step further.
A dog owner is liable under Georgia’s dog bite statute if the following occurs:
- The victim didn’t provoke the dog: If the plaintiff was out in public or on the dog owner’s property and there is evidence that shows that they were not tormenting, abusing, or teasing the animal, the owner could be held responsible if the dog attacks.
- Careless owner: If the owner didn’t have the dog on a leash, you have sufficient evidence to present to a judge or a jury in a court of law, as most towns and cities have a law requiring a dog to be on a leash. If this law is broken, it won’t be challenging to prove that the owner was careless. This would also hold true if the person was walking multiple dogs at once and couldn’t control all of them reasonably.
- The owner knew that their dog posed a threat to others: If the dog bit another person in the past, the owner would have sufficient evidence to show that their dog is dangerous. Your Georgia personal injury attorney will have to prove that the owner had reason to believe that their dog would attack or bite another person. The owner knows that the dog could, for instance, charge after someone else who is walking their dog, or they could be hostile towards strangers in general.
There are a few more essential things you should know regarding Georgia’s dog bite statute. It is unnecessary to have been on public property when the injury occurred, but if the dog injured you because you were trespassing on the owner’s property, likely, the defendant wouldn’t be held responsible for your injuries. Georgia’s dog bite law also covers actual attacks and bites, unlike other states.
Contact A Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Our skilled dog bite lawyers will walk you through the entire litigation procedure for a dog bite lawsuit. It is important you find a lawyer who will offer you expert legal advice and support you through a difficult time.
We are here for our clients every step of the way. We are committed to fighting for the justice and compensation our clients rightfully deserve. Complete our online contact form or give our legal team a call today.