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Dog Bite Victim Denied Recovery Due to Legal Loophole

Published February 13, 2018 by Bruce Millar
Dog Bite Victim Denied Recovery Due to Legal Loophole

When a home health provider is attacked and bitten by a dog, she attempts to recover for her damages and injuries but fails to do so. A legal technicality kills her case.

Dog Bite Cases Have Challenges

This sort of story is not unusual when it comes to dog bite cases. These cases are notoriously difficult to win – even seasoned experts in these matters fail from time to time. Why? First of all, Georgia law presumes that all dogs are harmless until they prove themselves to be dangerous. Secondly, attorneys trying such a case must understand and adhere to the rules that seem impossibly stringent when it comes to ordinances pertaining to vicious animals.

A Broken Chain, Holding a Violent Dog

In this case, Cormier v. Willis, 313 Ga. App 699 (2012), a home health care provider came to a home owned by a man who had been caring for his elderly mother-in-law for some years with the help of visiting nurses. At the time of this visit, the man was away on vacation. His 27-year-old daughter was staying at the residence caring for her grandmother. She also had her pit bulldog staying at the home with her. The dog was chained on the porch when the healthcare provider arrived.

The dog immediately slipped his chain, jumped through the open passenger window and bit the nurse on the elbow. When the terrified lady began honking the horn for help, the dog’s owner came outside and called the dog. The dog finally let go of the nurse, jumped out of the car, and went to his owner, the daughter.

The Dog Injury Lawsuit Outcome

When the home healthcare provider sued, she sued both the home-owner and the owner of the dog for careless management of a vicious or dangerous animal. Her pleadings relied upon the fact that she did nothing to provoke the dog, but that the animal was carelessly managed according to a local ordinance and allowed to go at liberty, thus causing her injuries.

The defendant father moved for summary judgment citing the fact that he neither owned nor kept the dog. He was not even at the house at the time. The motion for summary judgment was granted.

Among other things, though the plaintiffs plead that the daughter was acting as her father’s agent while he was gone, and could be responsible for negligence in some situations. The court ruled that the woman could not be considered to be acting as her father’s agent in keeping her own dog.

The Dog’s Owner Was Not Negligent

The appellate court, upon review, affirmed the grant of summary judgement in favor of the homeowner and his daughter. (And the dog.) So, you see, the little details can become big ones when dealing with the horror of dog bite cases.

If you or somebody you love has suffered injury from a dog bite event, call The Millar Law Firm. Not only are we among the premier personal injury firms in the Atlanta area, we specialize in dog bite matters. We will, free of charge, review your case and advise you of how to proceed.

Before you decide not to pursue this matter, call us. Together we can make an educated decision. You deserve the best in legal advice. We’re standing by to help.

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