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As we reported earlier, a City of Atlanta boy was the victim of a pit bull mauling and he unfortunately lost his life due to this senseless attack within the City of Atlanta city limits. Now, Fulton County leaders are apparently getting set to ask the City of Atlanta for funding to add 3 more animal control officers.

What many people, even those living in the City of Atlanta, don’t realize is that the City does not perform animal control services itself, but contracts with Fulton County (and presumably Clayton and DeKalb Counties in portions of the City that are in those two counties) to perform these services. Some higher-ups in Fulton County have mused about whether it would be better for the City of Atlanta to perform these services themselves. Well, I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know this: whoever is performing these services now (by all accounts it is Fulton County) is doing a horrible job, and maybe the City of Atlanta can provide a better service by doing it directly.

As an Atlanta personal injury attorney who handles dog bite cases on a regular basis, I believe more should be done to punish those who allow their dogs to run free. This should be in the form of civil (i.e., a lawsuit brought by the victim of the attack or their family to recover all of the damages caused by the attack) and criminal (i.e., a proceeding brought by the city or county in which the attack took place) penalties. I also think that pit bulls should be banned from the City and county as they are, in my opinion, inordinately involved in attacks, and certainly inordinately involved in the more vicious attacks. Most, if not all of, the dog bite cases that I have been involved with have involved pit bulls. The scenario is all too often played out like this. The owners of the pit bulls leave them unattended in the yard, all day in many cases. The dogs escape through a hole in the fence or an open gate and run the neighborhood (usually in packs of 2, 3 or 4) and devastate anyone or anything in their path. This kind of destruction can take the form of attacks on other dogs, cats, property, adults, or even usually in the most tragic cases, helpless little boys and girls who cannot fend off these pit bull dogs who, in many cases, are bred to kill.

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Atlanta dog attacks are making the news these days. In this recent story the mom of a boy who was brutally attacked by pit bulls who were unattended in the yard next to the boys house in Gwinnett County. The 7-year-old needed almost 300 stitches and he lost one ear while the other was hanging on by a thread of flesh. When will this nonsense stop and pit bulls be outlawed. It is a shame that a breed has been so ruthlessly wrecked, but the sad reality is that day after day, and especially here in the Atlanta area, we hear about innocent boys and girls being mauled by dogs. Some are seriously injured and some have even died, and invariably almost all of the attacks are by pit bulls. Enough is enough, these dogs need to be outlawed. Pit bulls are now banned in 12 countries, including Canada. It is time they are banned in the United States.

Whether pit bulls are banned or not, brings little solace to a mother whose little boy must have his ear attached or another mother who recently lost her little boy to a pit bull attack. In the case of the boy who had to have his ear attached, the families personal injury attorney who is representing the family for the dog attack case told the AJC that the dog’s owner “is facing a maximum penalty up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine for reckless misconduct, if he is convicted.” The unbelievable truth is that, in this case, the dog owner surrendered only 2 of his dogs and he still has two more dogs — and they are pit bulls! This is insanity. When will we stop allowing people’s rights to own a pet trump the rights of our children to be safe in the own yards and neighborhoods.

Justice in this case should be meted out in the form of a civil lawsuit. The pit bull owner should pay for all damages that his dogs have caused. This should include compensation for past and future medical bills and pain and suffering that the little boy endured during the attack, as well as the emotional pain and suffering that the boy will suffer in the future. Anyone who knows these types of case knows that the damages in this case approach $1M or more.

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Over the course of one week, 3 victims were recently attacked by vicious dogs in the same southwest Atlanta neighborhood. Not only is the number of attacks noteworthy, but the seriousness of the injuries is particularly disturbing. In one dog bite incident a 6 year-old boy was viciously attacked by a number of pit bulls that were loose and wandering the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the young boy lost his life due to the savage attack. In a related incident, a young girl who was waiting for the school bus with him was also attacked and rushed to the hospital. She ultimately survived the attack but will require a long hospital stay with the prospect of permanent injuries due to the attack.

Most dog bites on children result in permanent physical and mental scarring. Many of these dog attacks are covered by homeowners insurance. Insurance companies typically under-value these type of claims. They routinely play down the extent that permanent scarring affects a child and they also place little value in the emotional trauma that almost always accompanies a dog attack on a child. This is something that should not be allowed to take place, as the insurance adjuster must fully evaluate all aspects of a claim in order to properly adjust (i.e., value) the claim. Most insurers for the potential defendant, that is the negligent dog owner who puts his or her dog in a position to attack someone unrestrained, want to value these claims by simply tallying the medical bills and paying some form of a multiple of the medical bills. For a number of reasons, this has never been an accurate indicator of the true value of these types of dog bite cases. However, insurance companies started to value these types of cases and other personal injury cases this way, and plaintiff lawyers allowed them to do this. However, this has never resulted in fair valuation to the child plaintiff in these cases and it should not be allowed to be used in any case. Why? Because it will almost always result in the child plaintiff receiving less money in settlement than she would get when the case is properly evaluated by looking at all of the relevant factors that comprise damages in a dog bite on child case. So what are these elements of damages? Well, since you asked, some examples of damages are, but are certainly not limited to: (1) psychological and emotional damages that stem from the attack which can include a fear or phobia of dogs, a fear of doing the same activity that the victim was doing when the attack occurred, a fear of going outside or a generalized anxiety caused by the incident; (2) post traumatic stress disorder caused by the attack; (3) past and future medical bills related to the medical treatment necessary to treat the wounds from the attack; (4) a decreased ability to work and labor once the child is old enough to start working; and (5) general pain and suffering caused by the attack. Obviously, every case is different and this list of damages is in no way complete or exhaustive. However, it does illustrate the TYPES of damages that insurance adjusters for the negligent dog owners simply want to ignore.

Robert J. Fleming has been handling dog bite cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises 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 than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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A light post this time. I noticed that lawyers run the gamut as to what disclaimers they attach to emails and other communications. Today, I’ll focus on email disclaimers and I will share some I have noticed recently. Of course, first I will end this section with my disclaimer.

NOTICE:  This message is from a law firm, Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC (KWFDM). This message is intended only for the use of the individual to which it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify this office immediately by telephone, delete the e-mail from your computer and do not copy or disclose it to anyone else.  Return the original message to the address listed via U.S. Postal Service.  If you are not an existing client of KWFDM  do not construe anything in this e-mail to make you a client.  Do not disclose anything to KWFDM in reply that you expect to be held in confidence until you have retained the services of KWFDM   If you are a client, co-counsel or retained expert of KWFDM  you should maintain the contents of this email in confidence in order to preserve the attorney-client or work product privilege that may be available to protect confidentiality.  This email is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510 – 2521 and is legally privileged

Now, from another lawyer in my firm.

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According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepard, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, and Wolf Hybrid are considered “bad breeds” by many insurance companies and, in turn, are sometimes blacklisted or excluded from insurable claims. However, the article goes on to point out that one should not blame any single dog breed or dog for dog attacks, because in actuality every dog attack can be prevented. In other word, if dog owner were responsible and followed the laws, the dog would not be in a position to attack and innocent victim on the streets.

Dog attacks can happen with any breed and at any time, so long as the dog is allowed to roam or is not properly restrained and has the opportunity to attack. In addition, some dog owners, especially the owners of pit bulls, train the dogs to fight to the death for sport (i.e., dog fighting for betting, which is still fairly popular in some circles). However, the dog is not able to distinguish between sport and real life, and if left to its own devices and left un-restrained to roam the streets, can caused serious injury and even death. These attacks are horrific and senseless and more needs to be done by Atlanta animal control to stop these dogs from being allowed to roam neighborhood streets.

Recently, I represented a very nice woman who was gardening in her backyard one pleasant Saturday morning when not one, not two, but THREE pit bulls ran up on her and viciously attacked her. She was badly attacked and was taken to the Emergency room and was immediately admitted to the hospital after the ER due to the attack. It turns out that the dogs were left in a yard after the family had vacated the house and the dogs escaped through a hole in the fence (which the owner was aware of but simply placed a trash can in front of in a veiled attempt to contain the dogs in the yard). Once again, this is a needless attack, one in which we were able to hold the dog owner fully liable for. Importantly, allowing your dog to roam the streets is a violation of the local leash laws and subjects the dog owner to liability for the attack to the fullest extent allowed by law.

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As the previous blog related to dog bite cases illustrates, we have been following the recent catastrophic dog attack in southwest Atlanta. Now, after the senseless loss of an innocent child’s life and the hospitalization of another young child, the Atlanta neighbors have told the AJC that pit bulls routinely wander their streets. According to a recent article, it is not uncommon on the westside of Atlanta to see dangerous dogs roaming the streets. According to the article, “there are so many that Fulton County animal control officers could easily remove 100 dogs from the streets if they had the manpower” according to Oliver Delk, director of Fulton County’s animal services.

Dog bites can cause the following injuries:

  • puncture wounds and lacerations;
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The number of multi-practice dental practices (that is dental practices that have a number of locations and that are run by an administrative group rather than a single dentist) is growing nation-wide and in also Georgia. Some of the largest dental practice management companies are, with the approximate number of locations in parenthesis: Aspen Dental (over 240 locations), Great Expression (over 180 locations), Dental One Partners (over 150 locations), Coast Dental (over 100 locations), Clear Choice Dental Implant Centers (over 34 locations) and Mini Implant Centers of America (over 17 locations). Many of these organizations have a large presence in Georgia and the metropolitan Atlanta area. While dentists are professionals who have a code of ethics, many critics of the large, multi-location dental management practices that are sometimes owned by aggressive investment funds, charge that these practice are encouraged to put profit over safety and patient satisfaction in order to meet the bottom line numbers set by the practice. If true, this translates into complaints by patients of sloppy dentistry, the performance of unnecessary procedures, high bills, and low patient satisfaction.

While every case is different, dental patients should make sure that they are comfortable with the dentist who is providing the service to them (not just the practice). Care should also be given to utilizing captive specialists (dental specialists who are in-house with the large dental practice vs. a specialist who is independent of the practice). Dental specialists such as oral surgeons, endodontists, and periodontists are often involved when the care and treatment requires complicated extractions (usually partially and fully impacted wisdom teeth), root canals, and the installation of dental implants. As an Atlanta dental malpractice attorney, these are the specialty areas that I see involved in a great number of dental malpractice cases that my firm handles. Not only that, but these specialties, in my expert opinion, seem to cause the most severe injuries when they commit dental malpractice. This is why it is so important to get all the facts and make an informed decision about who is going to conduct the dental procedure on you, in addition to knowing the reputation of the dental practice. After all, the quality of the treatment you receive is going be directly related to the skills, qualifications and experience of the dental professional rendering the services.

Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises 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 than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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According to this recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, one child is dead and another was seriously wounded when three pit bulls attacked them while they were on their way to school on a street in southwest Atlanta. It is hard to imagine a more senseless killing.

According to AJC reporter Alexis Stevens, it was “an extraordinarily savage attack, two dogs that had wandered over from another street set upon the children as they walked to their bus stop.” One of the children later died at the hospital, while the other underwent emergency surgery at Egleston Children’s Healthcare and was in stable condition after the surgery.

The Atlanta Police Department apparently arrested the owner of the dogs and charged him with reckless conduct. Additional charges, if any, would be the decision of the Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard.

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As the recent AJC article points out, texting while driving is illegal in Georgia. Not only is it illegal, but it also contributes to many catastrophic car accidents on Georgia roads every year. The prohibition against texting while driving is expressly found in the Georgia Rules of the Road. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241, all Georgia drivers shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of the state of Georgia and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract the driver from the safe operation of the driver’s vehicle, provided that the proper use of a radio, CB radio, amateur ham radio or mobile telephone shall not be a violation of the Code. However, this code section was updated in 2010 to make explicitly state that “no person who is 18 years of age or older or who has a class C license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway . . . while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text-based communication, including but not limited to, a text message, instant messaging, e-mail, or Internet data.Wireless telecommunications device is defined as, “a cellular telephone, a text messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand alone computer, or any other substantially similar wireless device that is used to initiate or receive a wireless communication with any other person. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.2 et. seq.

So, in other words, drivers must use due care while using the cell phones while driving in Georgia, however they may not type or read text messages while driving. This is not to say that since a driver was “only on the phone” will the inquiry of whether the driver was negligent and whether the negligence caused the victim of the wreck’s injuries cease. The law is clear that one may utilize the privilege of talking on a cell phone while driving in Georgia, however there is a corresponding duty to not let your telephone call distract you in any way, especially in a way that will contribute to you causing an accident. This type of negligence has become more and more prevalent in our investigation of Atlanta car wrecks. More and more drivers, and especially commercial drivers who are certainly in a position to cause a lot more damage due to the size of the vehicles they driver, are distracted while talking on the phone, or are texting and this is often determined to be the cause of the wreck.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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As evidenced by this recent news article which investigated the number of school bus accidents and how they were reported, many Georgia school systems are under-reporting the number of school bus accidents, which hampers efforts to properly investigate school bus accidents, the extent of injuries sustained by school aged children involved in these school bus accidents, and the resolution of these cases. On average, there are about 2 accident per day in the metropolitan Atlanta area involving school buses according to the Georgia Department of Eduction. However, due to the aforementioned under-reporting by the school districts, the numbers are probably higher. Considering that students are not required to wear seat belts while being transported on the bus, the risk of serious injury to students while riding school buses is high. In addition, school officials are not able to use accurate data to make decisions that impact student welfare and safety. For example, if the true accident numbers for Atlanta area school districts are not know, it makes it difficult for the school districts to make proper decisions about whether certain drivers need additional safety training, whether certain buses are not working properly and possible contributing to accident, or whether certain school bus routes are disproportionately involved in serious accident — and thus should be changed in the interest of student safety.

Even though students are not required to wear seat belts while riding the school bus, most school bus accidents involve only minor injuries. In these accidents, bus drivers are charged for negligently causing the wreck about 1/3 of the time. Common examples of school bus driver negligence which causes accidents are: following too close, not properly judging the clearance of the front of the bus while turning, and not properly backing the bus up and running into another vehicle while doing so. However, as we have seen recently, school bus drivers have also been accused of speeding, texting while driving and improper lane changes which have caused many serious injuries in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

Since it is never clear whether the school district is operating the school bus directly, or the transportation has been outsourced, there are a number of potential road blocks for recovering for your child’s injury. Should your child be injured on a school bus, it is important to quickly gather all of the pertinent information and timely notify any governmental agencies of the potential lawsuit. This is known as an anti-litem notice and must be timely delivered to the governmental entity or the right to sue may be lost forever.