There are now almost 4.5 million dog bites in the U.S. each year and with the rise in dog bites is a corresponding rise in the payouts by liability insurers such as State Farm, Allstate and other large insurers who write homeowner’s insurance policies in the U.S.
Sadly, most of the attacks involve children and pit bulls, although there are other breeds that have a higher incidence of attacking such as the German Shepard, Chow, Akita, and Sharpei.
Most payouts are made to the injured dog bite victim from the dog owners insurer, and most times, the insurer is the insurance company who wrote the owner’s homeowner’s policy or (much less often) renter’s policy. Because of this, it is important that you determine the owner’s identity and residence as soon as you can, if you are bitten someone else’s dog.
One applicable law in Georgia which attaches liability to an animal owner is:
O.C.G.A. 51-2-7 (2010)
51-2-7. Liability of owner or keeper of vicious or dangerous animal for injuries caused by animal
“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.”
However, this certainly is not the only law that attaches liability to the dog owner. Which statute to proceed under, and who might be liable for the attack is something that must be determined on a case by case basis. Many times, the “owner” under applicable city and county codes is someone other than the person who actually owns the dog, although the actual owner may be liable as well. Many times, someone who harbors the dog (i.e, feeds and shelters it) may be also liable if the dog is kept in a way that causes it to be able to attack and injure an innocent person.
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.