With the right to pursue happiness in this country, also comes the responsibility to refrain from injuring or interfering with the rights of others. For example, you probably have the right to install a swimming pool in your yard. You also have the responsibility to protect innocent others from wandering into your pool and drowning. This is an easy fix. The fix is a fence.
If it is your choice to own an animal that is potentially dangerous to others, you have the responsibility to take steps to protect others from that animal. Again, the answer here is simple enough. You employ a muzzle and a strong leash.
Unfortunately, not all people take the responsibilities of ownership seriously.
On an August afternoon a 64-year-old nurse took her pet dog to the dog park near Carrington Park Condominiums in Brookhaven, Georgia. While she was there a terrier/pit bull charged at the woman’s small dog. The woman quickly picked up her dog to protect it but the aggressive dog jumped up and bit her right forearm. The dog pulled the nurse to the ground before they could be separated.
She was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of Grady Memorial Hospital, where she was hospitalized overnight and received treatment for torn flesh on her forearm from the dog bite. She was diagnosed with fractures of the distal radius (wrist) and ulna (forearm). She underwent closed reduction surgery to repair the distal radius fracture which required the use of pins to hold the fracture in place while it healed. Following her surgery, she received physical therapy and pain management, as well as psychological counseling due to the traumatic nature of the incident.
The nurse sued the owner of the aggressive animal for negligence in Fulton County State Court.
The plaintiff alleged that the dog’s owner knew of his dog’s violent propensities and should not have had it out in public without a muzzle or leash. His negligence in not protecting others from his dog’s aggressive behaviors caused the Plaintiff painful injuries, scarring, and emotional trauma.
In the course of the action, the defendant dog owner denied liability. He argued that his dog did not have a history of violent or aggressive behavior necessary to establish liability. The owner of the aggressive dog maintained that he did not commit a leash violation, as the incident occurred inside an open dog park. He further argued there was an assumption of risk with Conaway’s choice to enter the dog park.
The nurse’s counsel produced veterinary records which noted multiple instances of the dog’s biting or acting aggressively. These records stated that this particular dog required a muzzle.
Ultimately, in spite of the Defendant’s denials and arguments against his negligence, the case was settled out of court for the full limits of the dog owner’s liability insurance of $300,000.
When injuries such as these happen, is not unusual for the victim to be approached by representatives of the other party’s insurance carrier. The insurance adjustor’s job is to attempt to settle the claim for the least amount possible. His job is to save his company money.
Understand that in our society the rights we enjoy as citizens depend upon our resolve to hold guilty parties responsible when they act thoughtlessly.