According to a recent webmd article, dogs attack and bite over 4 million Americans every year, half of these attacks are on children between ages 5 and 9. One out of every five of those bites causes an injury that requires medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Children are also more likely than adults to be injured by a dog bite and the severity of the injuries that children sustain are often much more severe than those that adult dog attack victims suffer because children are, in many cases, unaware of the dangers of the dogs and helpless against an attack.
Although strays or other strange dogs can bite, most of the time people are actually bitten by a dog they know, which could be a friend’s dog or even the family pet. Other times, a loose dog in the neighborhood comes up upon a child and attacks.
In order to prevent dog bites and attacks:
- When choosing a dog for a family pet, pick one with a good temperament.
- Stay away from any dogs you don’t know.
- Never leave young children alone with a dog — especially an unfamiliar one.
- Don’t try to play with any dog that is eating or feeding her puppies.
- Whenever you approach a dog, do so slowly, and give the dog the chance to approach you.
- If a dog becomes aggressive, do not run away or scream. Stay calm, move slowly, and don’t make eye contact with the dog.
Most times, liability of the owner is premised upon local leash laws that require the owner of a dog to maintain control of his or her dog and to ensure that the animal is not in a position to cause injury. In addition to these laws, there are a number of state statutes that are applicable including but not limited to:
O.C.G.A. § 51-2-6. Dogs, liability of owner or keeper for injuries to livestock
If any dog, while not on the premises of its owner or the person having charge of it, kills or injures any livestock, the owner or person having charge of the dog shall be liable for damages sustained by the killing or maiming of the livestock and for the full costs of action.
O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7. Vicious animals, liability for injuries caused by
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 foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated fowl including roosters with spurs. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated livestock.
It should be noted, again, that the above statutes are not likely to be relied upon in a lawsuit involving a dog attack. It is not necessary to prove that the dog had a vicious propensity, nor that it had bitten or attacked someone else before. All that needs to be proved is a violation of the local leash law (such as that contained in the Atlanta Municipal Code), the resulting attack and the injuries that flow from the attack.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dog attacks, 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.