Having a dog bite report or animal control report made after you have been attacked is an important part of proving and winning a Georgia or Atlanta area dog bite case. This article by our Atlanta dog bite attorneys may guide you thorough the process.
- An Animal Control Report can help a dog bite victim recover damages for injuries sustained from a dog bite or attack.
- You may file an Animal Control Report with your local Animal Control Department or by calling the local police or sheriff’s office.
- Your report should include important information, such as a description of the incident, eyewitnesses, and whether and how you were injured.
- The Animal Control Report is often presented to the dog owner’s insurance company as evidence in support of your injury claim.
An Overview of Georgia’s Dog Bite Laws
Much like their human owners, dogs are not legally presumed to be dangerous in the state of Georgia. This means that it is up to the victim of a dog bite to establish that the dog was dangerous.
An owner’s liability for a dog bite in Georgia is governed by Ga. Code Ann. § 51-2-7, which provides that a dog’s owner can be held liable for injuries caused by the dog if the following elements are met:
- The dog is considered vicious or dangerous;
- The dog’s owner carelessly managed the dog or allowed the dog to roam freely; and
- The victim of the dog bite did not do anything to provoke the attack.
One of the most common ways for a personal injury attorney to establish that a dog owner was responsible is by showing evidence that the dog was required by city or county ordinance to be leashed or at heel, but was not at the time of the attack.
Who Should You Make or File a Dog Bite Report With?
If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to file a dog bite report as soon as possible after the incident. Who you should report the dog bite to depends on the county in which the attack occurred. Generally, a dog bite is reported to the county’s Animal Control or Animal Services facility. An Animal Control officer will then create the dog attack or bite report.
You may also contact the local police or sheriff’s department about the attack. The police or sheriff’s department will usually notify Animal Control when you contact them.
If you were severely injured by the dog, call 911 immediately so that you can receive immediate medical attention; otherwise, you can contact the police department’s non-emergency number to report the incident. The operator will then dispatch an Animal Control officer to the scene of the attack, and the officer will write up an animal control report.
In Georgia, most hospital emergency rooms will report your bite or attack to Animal Control, and an officer may respond to the hospital to make a report. If you have not contacted Animal Control and the hospital failed to do so, we suggest you call the police or Animal Control as soon as possible to make your report.
Even if the injury doesn’t seem severe to you, it is still a good idea to seek medical advice. We have a legal guide which outlines some of the reasons you should take any animal bite seriously.
The Importance of Filing a Dog Bite or Animal Control Report
Oftentimes, those who are bitten by a dog are hesitant to file a dog bite report, whether because they know the owner and do not want to cause animosity or because they fear for the safety of the dog itself. However, if you were bitten by a dog in Georgia, the importance of filing a dog bite or attack animal control report cannot be understated.
Dog bite reports are important for a number of reasons, including:
- Documenting a dog (and dog owner’s) safety record: By making a report, you are creating a record from which you and others can see the history of any previous bite incidents and the dog’s vaccination records. You can request and obtain any prior records about the dog and current vaccination information to help you determine whether diseases such as rabies are of concern after a dog bite.
- Providing evidence for a personal injury claim: Information provided in a dog bite report can be invaluable if you decide to file a personal injury claim for the injuries you sustained.
- Protecting others from another attack: When a dog attack is reported owners may take additional steps to ensure that an attack does not happen again. In other words, when you file a dog bite report, you aren’t just protecting your own safety; you are taking steps to protect others from a similar attack in the future, too.
The outcome of your dog bite doesn’t change the fact that a report should be filed after the incident. A dog bite or attack should be reported to Animal Control even if you walked away from the attack unscathed. This is for the safety of others — while you may not have been injured by the dog bite, if the dog aggressively attacks, bites, scratches or knocks someone down in the future, he or she might not be as lucky.
Are dog bite reports mandatory? What happens when a dog bite is reported?
Dog bite reports are generally only mandatory when there is an actual bite. This is generally within the discretion of the animal control officer if there is no bite. When a dog bite is reported, it is maintained in the county’s file system and is accessible under Georgia’s open records law.
How much Time Do I Have to Make a Georgia Dog Bite Claim?
If you’ve been searching for advice online following a dog bite, you may have noticed a common theme from the articles you’ve read: It’s critically important to discuss the attack with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The reason that this advice appears so often from so many different sources is because of laws called “statutes of limitations,” which set a hard deadline for a victim of a dog bite to file a claim for his or her injuries.
In Georgia, a person who is bitten by a dog has two years from the date of the attack to file a personal injury claim. After the two-year time limit provided by the statute of limitations has expired, it is nearly impossible for a dog bite victim to recover compensation for the injuries suffered during the attack.
While two years may sound like plenty of time to file a claim, it’s important to speak with an attorney who has experience handling dog bite claims as quickly as possible. Setting the foundation for a successful dog bite claim does not happen overnight, and searching for legal assistance at the eleventh hour can leave your attorney without adequate time to gather the evidence needed to file a claim.
What Evidence Do I Need to File a Dog Bite Report?
When filing a Georgia city or county animal control or dog bite report, there is no such thing as too much evidence. Providing ample evidence to an Animal Control Officer can help establish that the dog bite actually occurred—especially if your injuries are not obvious. If you have been bitten by a dog, you can use a variety of evidence to prove the attack and resulting injuries, including:
- Medical records from the medical professional who treated your injuries;
- Clear, detailed photographs or videos of the injuries you sustained; and
- Statements from bystanders who witnessed the attack.
Eyewitnesses can also be helpful in proving that the dog was not leashed at the time of the attack, where the attack happened, and that you did not provoke the attack. Each of these things can help establish the owner’s liability for your injuries.
What Information Should Be Included in a Dog Bite Report?
A dog bite report should provide a general overview of the incident and can include:
- The name and contact information of both the victim and the dog’s owner;
- The breed of the dog;
- The date, time, and location of the dog bite scene;
- The circumstances leading up to the dog bite; and
- A summary of what happened from the perspective of the dog’s owner, the person who was bitten, and any bystanders who may have witnessed the bite.
If you receive a copy of your report from animal control for the dog bite or attack and it does not contain these important items of information, you may contact Animal Control and provide the missing information, and ask that the report be supplemented or updated.
Dog Bite Reports and Personal Injury Claims
A dog bite report is intended to document the details of the incident. While a dog bite report is not required in order to file a personal injury claim, the report can be one of the most critical pieces of evidence that your attorney can use to establish the owner’s liability for your injuries. A dog bite report can help make your claim for personal injuries stronger and more successful.
For example, personal injury lawyers often send the dog bite report to the dog owner’s insurance company to show the adjuster that the victim has a strong claim.
What Happens If a Complaint Was Filed Against My Dog?
If your dog bit someone and a complaint was made to animal control, you might receive a citation for the dog bite. In some cases, this may be the only penalty for the bite. If the bite caused bleeding, however, Georgia law requires a dog to be quarantined for a period of 10 days following the incident. Each county has its own rules governing how and where a dog can be quarantined following a dog bite. Locations can include your veterinarian’s office, the county animal shelter, or—in some cases—your own home.
Whether a claim will be filed with your insurance company following a dog bite depends on what steps the person who was bitten takes after the incident occurs. The fact that someone filed a dog bite report does not automatically mean that your insurance company must pay the claim or that you will definitely be sued. Whether to file a personal injury claim is a decision for the victim of the dog bite to make.
Regardless of the circumstances, if your dog bites another person, it’s a good idea to notify your homeowners or renters’ insurance company. You may also want to consult with a dog bite attorney to discuss what steps you should take, along with what defenses may be available in the event that the injured party files a dog bite claim.
What If a Dog Has Multiple Dog Bites Reported Against Them?
Whether or not the dog that attacked you has a prior history of aggression can make a huge difference in your case. First, to win your dog bite case in Georgia, you must prove the owner’s liability for your injuries. Usually, this means proving that the owner knew that his or her dog was aggressive or that the owner failed to properly restrain their dog at the time of the attack. Local police and animal services departments may have reports and records that can provide evidence as to whether the dog that bit you has had any previous reports of attacks.
Secondly, if the dog has a history of attacking humans, the owner may be responsible for paying punitive damages. Punitive damages are an additional payment or civil penalty added on to punish a dog owner who knowingly or recklessly keeps and carelessly manages a vicious dog.
How Does a Personal Injury Attorney Help You After a Dog Bite?
If you’ve suffered injuries as a result of a dog bite in the Atlanta metro area, a dog bite lawyer can investigate your case, start to finish, and help you recover compensation for the injuries you sustained from the dog bite.
When you bring a dog bite claim against the dog’s owner, it’s important to know that, in most injury cases, you are actually fighting against the dog owner’s insurance company. These companies are well-oiled machines that are represented by adjusters and attorneys whose main objective is to reduce your compensation in order to save the insurance company money.
Insurance companies will require a large amount of documentation, such as the Animal Control Report, your medical bills and records, photographs of your injuries, reports from medical doctors, and eyewitness statements before paying your claim.
Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers must be convinced you can win your case in a courtroom before they will consider paying what your case is truly worth.
When you entrust your dog bite claim to The Millar Law Firm, you can rest assured that your claim is being handled by an experienced legal team. We have been handling and winning dog bite cases all across the State of Georgia since 1993.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with dog bite attorney at The Millar Law Firm, call 770-400-0000 today.
I would highly recommend this firm and staff to everyone, they were great with my case.