Our attorneys and law firm decided to specialize in dog bite law years ago after learning that dog bites are becoming a more serious problem each year. We learned that few lawyers have the specialized knowledge and training necessary to properly investigate and prove dog bite cases, especially when children are up to 40% of the victims.
Legal Resources and Help on This Page:
- How our law firm helps the child victims of serious dog attacks
- Should I hire a lawyer if my child was bitten by a dog?
- What should you do after a child is attacked or bitten by a dog?
- After a dog attack, who pays for my child’s medical bills?
- In Georgia, how do I prove my kid’s dog bite or attack case?
- Is a lawsuit going to be necessary if my child was attacked or bitten?
- What is a fair settlement amount or offer for a child’s dog bite case?
- In Georgia, who receives the money when a child’s dog bite case settles?
- Reasons why dogs often bite children
- What if the dog owner is my neighbor, will there be problems if I get an attorney?
- Who is responsible if a child hugs, or falls on a dog or pulls its ears and is bitten?
- Should my child receive counseling after a dog bite?
- Get help with your dog bite case today
How our law firm helps the child victims of serious dog attacks
More than half of all dog bite victims are children. Our Georgia Dog Bite Attorneys often represent children in serious dog bite cases. There are often specific reasons why dogs bite, and in many cases the reason that a dog bites a child comes down to careless management of the dog or improper training.
When a dog bite occurs, the bite victim’s parents must do more than prove that the bite happened to receive compensation for their child from the dog’s owner or the homeowner’s insurance company. A dog bite victim must prove that a dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous or vicious tendencies.
Should I hire a lawyer if my child was bitten by a dog?
If you are a parent in Georgia whose child has been bitten by a dog, here is some information you may find helpful. Dog owners and insurance companies fight dog bite cases particularly hard. It is not at all unusual for a dog owner to try to unfairly blame an innocent child for provoking their dog to attack. And, because dog bites are frequently covered by homeowners insurance, adjusters who are trying to avoid paying out claims may offer parents who are representing their own children less than one-third of what the case is actually worth, because they know a parent has little chance of taking them to court and winning.
If you consider that a Georgia lawyer typically charges a contingency fee of 33%, a child with a lawyer is likely to recover far more after the attorney is paid than his or her parents could get on their own.
What should you do after a child is attacked or bitten by a dog?
First, get medical attention. Go to the emergency room or see a doctor right away. Scars or infections from bacteria in a dog’s saliva can occur or be made worse by a delay in medical care. Call 911 and call animal control. Have a report made so that there is documentation about what happened. Often animal control will investigate and determine for you who the dog owner is.
Don’t worry about calling animal control if your child has been seriously injured. Go to the hospital. In Georgia, the hospital will call animal control who will usually meet you at the emergency room or in the hospital and make their report and begin to investigate. However, be sure that the hospital actually does this. If animal control does not come to the hospital or workers will not call animal control, be sure to do this yourself so that a report is made.
Most importantly, verify as soon as possible from the dog owner or animal control that the dog is current on its rabies vaccine.
After a dog attack, who pays for my child’s medical bills?
If your family is lucky enough to have medical insurance, we recommend that you use that health insurance for your child’s medical care. Although the neighbor whose dog bit your daughter or son may promise to pay your bills, when the emergency room bill arrives (which can be thousands of dollars in serious cases), it is not surprising when the neighbor refuses to answer the door or take your calls.
This is when you need to get the dog owner’s insurance company involved. Keep track of all of your bills, co-pays, medication costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses (or have a lawyer do this for you) and at the appropriate time, when the medical costs are known, these bills — as well as a demand for pain and suffering and permanent injury — can be presented to the insurance company for the home owner or renter.
In Georgia, how do I prove my kid’s dog bite or attack case?
In short, to prove any dog bite case, adult or child, you must show that the dog had a vicious tendency or propensity. Traditionally, this was known as the first-bite rule or “one free bite.” But this is not strictly true, a dog does not have to have bitten an adult or child before, but you must show that the dog had exhibited threatening behavior in the past – more than just biting or growling. Additionally, under Georgia’s dog bite statutes, particularly 51-2-7, a dogs viciousness is presumed if the dog escapes from its owner due to careless management and is roaming at large in violation of a local ordinance.
Finally, the victim must not have provoked the dog’s attack. This last part can sometimes be problematic in the case of children, as dog owner’s frequently claim that “their” dog is friendly and would never harm a child. Unfair or unjust accusations that a child provoked or teased a dog are, unfortunately, common. Proper investigation can often overcome such objections by the owner.
Is a lawsuit going to be necessary if my son or daughter was attacked or bitten?
We understand completely. No parent wants to see their child in a courtroom. Hiring a lawyer to protect your child’s rights and recover money to cover medical care and other compensation does not mean filing a lawsuit. An experienced attorney will investigate and put your case together and do everything possible to get the insurance company to pay a fair settlement without a lawsuit being filed in Court. A large part of an attorney’s job is to present a compelling case to the insurance adjuster so that the company is willing to settle, knowing that “if” a lawsuit is filed, you are likely to win in court.
What is a fair settlement amount or offer for a child’s dog bite case?
There is not a lot of public information available, and each case is different. In our office we have found that the primary factor in the value of a child’s case is whether he or she will have significant scars as a result of the attack. Emotional damage is also a big driver of value. Some of our largest cases have been with children who have scars from a laceration on a visible body part such as a face or an arm or leg. Perhaps the most important thing is to make sure that your attorney has experience in handling cases involving serious injuries to children. Attorneys who specialize in injuries to children have access to insurance and legal databases which contain summaries of verdicts and settlements in similar cases. This can be a valuable resource in knowing whether a settlement offer is fair and should be accepted.
In Georgia, who receives the money when a child’s dog bite case settles?
In the State of Georgia, settlements for minors (children under the age of 18) must be approved by the probate court in the county where the child lives if the settlement amount is going to be $15,000.00 or more. If a lawsuit has been filed, the settlement must be approved by the sitting Judge. If a case is serious enough to justify hiring a lawyer, this means that settlement in most cases involving a dog bite attorney will eventually have to be approved by a probate or state court judge.
Probate court and State court judges will require that the money received on behalf of a minor child be held in trust until the child turns 18. The money may be held in a bonded account or placed into an annuity, guaranteed by a highly rated annuity company.
Reasons Why Dogs Often Bite Children
The Humane Society outlines some scenarios that can cause dogs to become aggressive and bite. The types of aggression include:
- Aggression motivated by fear – If a dog believes that there is danger, then a dog may strike and bite. Unfortunately, this can and does sometimes happen even if there is no actual danger, such as a child rushing at the dog, riding a bike nearby or playing and wrestling with other children nearby.
- Inexperience with dogs — dogs may be especially likely to bite children because kids are not yet fully aware of how to interact with the animals. Also, children tend to use quick excitable movements that can be perceived by dogs as being dangerous. Dogs that are older and have problems with vision or hearing are also be more likely to bite.
- Territory protection –Dogs are pack animals. Protecting themselves, their territory, their “pack” and their prized possessions is a way of life. Children often do not understand boundaries, such as property lines or playing with a dog’s food. If a dog believes that its property is being entered or its food is being taken away or that someone is invading it space, the dog may show aggression or bite.
- Redirected aggression – Redirected aggression can occur when a dog becomes excited, nervous or anxious as a result of some stimulus and then redirects the aggression onto another person or animal. For example, if two dogs are wrestling or fighting each other and then a child comes nearby, the dog might attack out of redirected aggression that was originally targeted at the other dog.
What if the dog owner is my neighbor, will there be problems if I get an attorney?
Chances are that you may have more serious problems with your neighbor if you try to handle you child’s dog bite case on your own. A letter from an attorney to the dog owner will ask and encourage the neighbor to contact his or her homeowners or renters insurance company. From that point forward, there need not be any discussion between you and the dog owners, as an insurance adjuster and your lawyer’s office will usually work things out.
Who is responsible if a child hugs, or falls on a dog or pulls its ears and is bitten?
Sometimes small children accidently startle or hurt a dog, because they do not understand the consequences of their actions. In 2008 the Georgia Court of Appeals looked at such a case. In the case of Custer v. Coward a young girl bounced off a trampoline and landed on a family dog. The dog not only bit the child, it refused to let her go for several minutes. The Court ruled that unless the dog had a history of previous aggressive behavior, the owner did not have responsibility for the dog’s bite.
Should my child receive counseling after a dog bite?
This depends on the child. Some children are relatively fine after a dog bite or attack. It is not uncommon, however, for a child to have nightmares, fear of dogs, depression, or even post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) after being bitten. Because our lawyers specialize in dog bite cases, we are often asked by parents whether their child should have counseling.
Symptoms of post traumatic stress can appear shortly after an attack, or many months later.
A good first step is to consult with a family doctor or pediatrician for an opinion. If your child does need to have counseling, this becomes as much a part of his or her damages in the case as physical pain and scarring.
Get Help from Our Atlanta Dog Bite Lawyers Today
Regardless of the reason for a dog bite or the tender age of the victim, a bite can cause painful and expensive injuries. A dog bite can lead to lacerations, bone fractures and permanent disfigurement, among other injuries. In the worst-case scenario, a dog bite can even result in death.
The experienced Atlanta dog bite lawyers at The Millar Law Firm can help you recover money to help your child if he or she has been bitten, attacked or mauled by a vicious dog. Your family deserves proper compensation for all of your child’s medical bills, emotional injury, pain and disfigurement. Our Atlanta attorneys have reached numerous large settlements for the benefit of children in serious dog bite cases.
If you are seeking an attorney or just have questions, contact Millar Law today for a free case evaluation by calling 770-400-0000 ( “770-4-Million”) or reach us online.
At The Millar Law Firm, our experienced dog attack attorneys will work hard to protect your rights and interests. We help adults and children injured in dog bites and dog attacks across the Atlanta metro area and throughout Georgia. Our attorneys have secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for our past clients.