Dog Bite Injury, No Actual Bite Required
Must a dog actually bite a person in order for his owner to be found negligent in a Georgia personal injury case? Under the law of Georgia, the answer is not necessarily. A dog that causes injury can create legal trouble for his owners by chasing, lunging, showing his teeth, or even snarling IF that animal causes another person to become injured AND the dog is improperly managed.
Most cases involving dog-bites or attacks require that multiple questions of law be answered in order to prevail in court. The Georgia Code (ie., Georgia’s Dog Bite Statute) says that the owner or “keeper” of a vicious dog (as that term is defined by Georgia law) can be found to be responsible if the dog is able to or allowed to escape and the victim doesn’t provoke the attack.
It is these tricky legal obligations that are often misunderstood by victims who attempt to handle a dog attack case. These cases are not nearly as easy as they might appear to be at first glance and even a lawyer who doesn’t handle these cases often can be bewildered by them.
A woman was injured after a dog escaped from its enclosure and raced toward her in a threatening manner. The woman ran from the dog and was injured when she fell at the edge of the driveway.
The woman instituted a civil action against the owner of the dog requesting compensation for her injuries.
The trial court granted the dog owner’s motion for summary judgment. This meant that the judge in the case, believing that all the questions of law were effectively answered and dismissed the case. The plaintiff appealed.
The injured woman supplied sworn affidavits from former neighbors stating that the dog in question frequently ran loose and was known to chase people and jumped upon children. Plaintiffs contended that these affidavits showed that the animal was carelessly managed.
Defendants asserted that the dog was securely chained inside the fence. The dog escaped when the chain became unfastened and the gate was opened when a daughter of the defendant dog owners came to the house and opened the gate to drive in. However, according to the appellate court, the defendants did not establish conclusively that the care of the animal was in keeping with the standards required by law.
The appellate court overturned the trial court summary judgment and sent this case back to be heard by a jury. The jury would have to determine whether or not the dog was carelessly managed.
If you’ve ever been chased or threatened by an aggressive dog you might imagine that it’s only common sense that the dog’s owners answer for the animal’s behavior. Hopefully, a Jury of your peers would or will agree, as Georgia law gives the victim an opportunity to make her case regarding whether a dog was or was not carelessly managed to a jury of her peers, but only if there is sufficient evidence under the law.
If you have been the victim of a dog attack, your right to walk down the street unafraid has been trampled upon.
At The Millar Law Firm we provide a free case evaluation in order to determine whether or not your case can be won in court. If we think you can win, we’ll advise you about how to proceed. We are specialists in personal injury cases, with an emphasis upon dog attacks. If your case can be won, we’re the law firm to help you do it.
Call us today. Let our experience and expertise help you find justice.