A $200,000 lawsuit has been filed against film producer Stuart Parr and his actress wife because their black Labrador Retriever has allegedly bit a woman on the left hand at a hotel in Aspen, Colorado. As a litigation attorney in Atlanta, I’ve seen firsthand the physical pain and emotional anguish dog bites can cause.
The incident took place while the defendants were vacationing with their daughter and their Labrador Retriever at the Little Nell Hotel. The victim of the dog bite asserts that the dog “lunged” at her, clamping down on her left hand as she was walking the hotel grounds.
The defendants’ daughter pulled the dog away and told the victim that the dog was a “bad dog” after the bite happened. The injuries suffered by the claimant required several surgeries and caused a staph infection.
Staph infections are caused by a germ called staphylococcus bacteria, which is commonly found on the skin and nose of healthy individuals. These bacteria seldom cause problems or cause minor skin infections. But staph infections can be deadly if the bacterium enters the bloodstream, joints, bones, heart, or lungs.
Dogs bite around 4 1/2 million people annually. And 1 in 5 of those unfortunate enough to be bitten require medical attention. Furthermore, over 30,000 people have to undergo reconstructive surgery as a result.
In Georgia, most dog owners are liable when their dogs bite others. While most people, and even some lawyers, cite the “one bite rule” in arguing that the owner is only liable for damages to the bitten person if the owner knew or should have know of the dog’s dangerous propensity. While this is the law in Georgia, there are many legal ways around this rule, and most dog owner’s are “negligent per se” and liable for all of the damages caused by their dogs. This is especially true in the in-town cities and counties such as Atlanta proper, Decatur, Brookhaven, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Snellville, Smyrna, Johns Creek, Avondale Estates, Roswell, Alpharetta, Macon, Cobb County, Fulton County, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County, Clayton County and other jurisdictions which have strict leash laws. Most of the leash laws require that a dog owner have complete control over their dogs at all times when they are in public. This, by definition, ensures that the dog will not be free to roam and attack/bite neighbors, etc.
We have handled many cases involving a dog that was allowed to roam by the dog’s owner, attacks an innocent person (usually a small child who is defenseless against an aggressive dog) and causes a great deal of damages. Most times, the damages resulting from the dog attack are in the form of hospital bills, subsequent doctors’ bills for follow up visits with a doctor to treat the wounds from the attack, lost wages (if the victim is an adult and the injury is severe), and in many cases, bills related to treatment by a mental health provider to help the victim deal with the trauma of being attacked. In some case following a sever dog bite attack, the client suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and and strong fear of dogs and being attacked again. For instance, I represented a client who was in gardening in her own backyard early one morning when a neighbor’s two pit bulls snuck up on her and viciously attacked her for almost 15 minutes. After being treated at the hospital and following up with numerous other doctors and plastic surgeons, the client was not able to get over the fear that this attack could happen again and this fear caused her a great amount of damage.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling dog bite/attack cases, and other serious injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more over 20 years in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area.