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Dog Bites as Insurable Events on Georgia Homeowner’s Policies

If you are the victim of a dog bite attack, it is important to identify the owner of the dog and to determine where the owner lives and whether the owner has homeowner’s insurance that will cover the damages related to the dog attack. Fortunately, Georgia has a statute which allows the dog bite victim to discover all insurance that may cover the loss. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 33-3-28, the victim should request from the dog owner to provide within 30 days the insurance information for each known insurer which may provide coverage for the attack, such as homeowner’s policy or umbrella policies written for the homeowner.

Damages for such an attack normally include compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The pain and suffering figure is provided to compensate the victim for being attacked, and for having to live the rest of their life with a permanent scar, as well as the emotional trauma and fear which sometimes accompanies the dog bite victim in the future. The personal injury/physical damages are affected by the location of the attack and scars, the age, race and gender of the victim (with a young African-American female more likely to be more affected by scarring due to her relatively young age, being female and the propensity for African-Americans to develop keloid scars which are much more pronounced and almost always require revision surgery or are permanent). Emotional damages would be impacted by the extent of  the scars, whether they will heal over time, and to what extent the incident have affected the victim emotionally. The emotional aspect of damages in these types of case should not be underestimated. Being attacked by a vicious dog is a traumatic event and can be emotionally debilitating for some victims. Future psychological care and treatment, the inability to freely come and go as they please and a fear of similar situations as that which precipitated the attack are all relevant inquiries that must be factored into any settlement of these types of cases. 

Most dog bites are clear liability cases against the insured homeowner. The attack usually occurs following the owner leaving the dog unattended, without required tags, and/or unleashed in the yard, which is not properly enclosed. As a direct result of the negligence, the dogs escape and, more often than not, viciously attack the victim. Most county’s animal control laws require the owner to secure their dogs in a manner that would have prevented them from escaping, and the attack constitutes negligence per se of violating the law. 

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.