Dog’s Prior Bad Behavior Proven Without A Bite

Functioning as part of a happy society sometimes takes effort. Being a good neighbor occasionally means going a bit out of your way, but it’s a great way to secure good will. For example, watering the houseplants or feeding and watering the neighbor dog sound like friendly little deeds. It’s really not too much to ask and, who knows? Maybe someday you’ll need a little help. Nevertheless, sometimes being a good neighbor can have unfortunate consequences.

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A woman agreed to feed the neighbor’s dog while the family was out of town. Even though she knew of several previous incidents in which the dog behaved aggressively toward others, including a woman on a bicycle and a ten-year-old-girl, the dog’s owner assured her that the dog wouldn’t bite her since she was “a friend.”

As she was waiting for the dog’s owner to fetch his bowl and food, the woman approached the chained animal. It leaped upon her and severely bit her left arm and breast. She was treated at the emergency room of a near-by hospital where damaged tissue was cut away and her wounds were cleaned and sutured.

The woman missed two and one-half week’s work following the incident. She continues to suffer pain in and around the wounded area. She was also left with visible and unsightly scars that might have been repaired had she been financially able to afford the plastic surgery to remove them. She sued the neighbors for damages alleging that the dog was vicious and was negligently managed.

In spite of the previous incidents, the dog’s owner continued to claim at trial that they were not aware of the dog’s propensities to vicious, aggressive behavior. Defendants maintained that the incident with the neighbor was the first time the dog had ever actually bitten anybody. They sought summary judgment on those grounds.

During trial there had been testimony, some of which was enumerated as error in the later appeal, that the dog had attacked others. None of the testimony proved that the dog had actually bitten anyone. Nevertheless, after deliberations, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $30,000 in damages.

The dog owners appealed on the grounds that since the dog had not demonstrated biting behavior previously and they were not aware of his vicious propensities. They contended that their motion for summary judgment should have been granted.

The Georgia appellate court, upon review, found that the dog’s owners should have been aware that their animal could behave aggressively given his history. While the dog had not yet actually bitten anyone, he had demonstrated a pattern of behavior that should have caused his owner to exercise greater caution. The plaintiffs prevailed.

It takes a well-skilled, highly experienced lawyer to win a dog bite case. There are many ways in which a single word can turn the tide of a jury verdict. In this case, the victim of the dog bite was awarded damages, but that relatively small sum of money won’t help her forget the terror of the incident, or erase her scars entirely. Was she made whole again? Probably not.

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Justice in a personal injury case is so much more than dollars and cents. There is no way to quantify the pain and suffering that can follow in the wake of an attack by a vicious animal. To make matters worse, dog owners are very often given a pass because they successfully claim to be ignorant of the animal’s vicious nature.

If you’ve suffered a dog attack, you owe it to yourself to carefully consider how your life has been impacted. If you’ve been damaged, it’s in your best interest to contact the personal injury specialists at The Millar Law Firm. We only take personal injury cases. This gives us a big advantage in court over lawyers who don’t know the many technicalities that can decide a cause in favor of the dog.

Call our office today for a free case evaluation. Let us review the facts and advise you how to proceed. Make your decision an educated one.