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The Dangers of Dog Bites

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to suffer a serious dog bite, you know that the fallout can be significant. Many severe dog bites require surgery, which can be expensive and physically painful. While you’re healing from surgery — or even just from the bite itself — you may not be able to work. A dog bite lawyer in Clayton might not be able to undo the bite itself, but working with an attorney can minimize the impact a dog bite has on your life. If an attorney takes your case, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, any lost wages, and physical and emotional pain stemming from the bite.

Georgia dog bite laws: What you need to know

The laws surrounding dog bites differ by state. Most of the time, states have one of two types of dog bite legislation:

Strict Liability: Dog owners are responsible for damages from bites even if the dog wasn’t previously known to be aggressive

One-Bite Rule: Dog owners are only responsible for damages from bites if there was already a reason to suspect the dog could be dangerous

Georgia’s laws surrounding dog bites don’t fit neatly into either category. Instead, it uses a kind of modified one-bite rule. Under Georgia law, there are generally two ways you can hold the owner liable for damages:

1. Viciousness, knowledge, and negligence

If you want to win your case against the owner of a dog that bit you, one way to do so is to prove three things in court:

  • The dog already had a tendency to be vicious or aggressive
  • The owner knew the dog was vicious (or reasonably should have known)
  • The owner carelessly managed the dog

Of course, knowing these things and proving them in court are two different things. If a dog bite lawyer takes your case, they can tell you whether you’re likely to successfully prove viciousness, knowledge, and negligence in court.

2. Violating an ordinance

Fortunately, this part of Georgia law makes it possible (in some cases) to recover damages even if the dog’s owner didn’t previously have reason to suspect the animal was dangerous. If the dog’s owner was violating an ordinance when the dog bit you, they can be held liable for your injuries. For example, say you’re walking on a public street, and a neighbor’s dog runs up to you and bites you. The dog has no history of aggressive behavior. However, because there’s a leash law in your neighborhood and the dog was roaming loose when it bit you, you will likely be able to hold the owner accountable for damages. However, if you’re visiting a neighbor and their dog bites you (but has no history of aggression), you wouldn’t be able to hold the neighbor accountable, as they weren’t violating an ordinance at the time. Keep in mind that each case is unique, and there might be other factors that determine whether a dog’s owner can be held responsible for bites or not. A dog bite lawyer in Clayton can review the facts of your case and help you move forward with legal action.

The cost of a dog bite

If you’ve never been bitten by a dog, you might not understand the incredible amount of damage a serious bite can do. Medical bills can quickly add up, especially if you develop secondary problems. For example, if a healing bite develops an infection, you may be charged for antibiotics, hospitalization, and other associated costs. Medical bills and supplies aren’t the only potential costs, however. If you are unable to work or have to work fewer hours because of your injuries, you might lose thousands in wages. In very severe cases (like needing an amputation as the result of a bite), you might find that your ability to work isn’t the only thing compromised; your quality of life is dramatically reduced, too. Some dog bite victims develop PTSD or suffer other emotional issues as a result of an attack, so they find themselves paying for ongoing mental healthcare.

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Need a dog bite attorney in Clayton?

A severe dog bite can have life-altering consequences. And unless you’re a lawyer, it can be difficult or impossible to get a fair settlement from the dog owner’s insurance company. At The Pendergrass Law Firm, we believe that owners of dangerous dogs should be held accountable, and we’ll work tirelessly to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, get in touch with us or schedule an appointment at our Clayton office at 41 S Main St for a free case review!

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