Can You Sue A Landlord for Your Dog Bite Case? In Georgia, It Can Be Difficult

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- Pamela Jean Bourassa

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When her son, a toddler at the time, was bitten on the face by the neighbor’s dog, one Georgia mother brought suit against the dog’s owner, the owners of the apartment complex where they lived, and the leasing agent for the complex. The mother sought damages for her injured son, who required seven stiches to his left cheek while he was playing at the neighbor’s house. The mother named every last party who might be considered liable for the injury. What she did not count upon was Georgia’s ‘first bite rule.’

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How Georgia Views These Cases

In our State, it is imperative that plaintiffs prove that the dog who injures someone else has shown his owner the same – or similar – behavior in the past. The law holds that unless and until a dog demonstrates vicious propensities that make his owner aware of his predisposition to bite, he is to be considered to be harmless, and that the person sued had control over the dog itself.

In this case, Griffiths v. Rowe Props., 271 Ga. App. 344 (2005), the dog’s owners moved that the court grant summary judgment to the dog’s owners because no party in the suit had been alerted to the dog’s disposition to bite. The Defendant property owner and leasing agent argued they also had no idea the dog was dangerous nor did the dog’s attack upon the child take place in one of the common areas in the complex over which they had control. According to court documents, the attack took place inside the apartment. Summary judgment – in which the court found for these parties and dismissed the action against them – was granted by the trial judge. These parties also requested that plaintiffs be penalized for bringing a frivolous suit.

The mother of the injured child appealed this decision.

Ultimately, the appellate court upheld the dismissal of these parties, but denied penalty to the plaintiffs because there was no evidence that the plaintiffs made arguments or allegations in bad faith.

The score card here is Dog 3, Injured Child 0.

Bringing a dog bite case is far easier than actually winning one. There are many technicalities in dog bite liability law, and particularly those relating to dog attacks. This does not mean that your case, if you have one, should simply not be pursued. On the contrary, if you think you have a dog bite case, by all means take it to court. But before you do, be absolutely certain that your lawyer knows all the ins and outs of dog bite cases.

At The Millar Law firm we specialize in personal injury and we litigate dog bite cases regularly. This experience makes us especially well-equipped to help you with yours. Call our office today and allow us to evaluate the facts around your dog attack case. Once we’ve given you our free evaluation, you will have a better idea whether or not you’re likely to be able to recover in court. Our expertise in personal injury cases like this puts us among Atlanta’s “Top Guns.” Why settle for less than the best in protecting your family?

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