- You or a Georgia lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases can prove a dog’s owner’s negligence with prompt investigation and documentation.
- Evidence including key documents, photos, videos, and witness statements after a dog attack can help build a solid claim.
- In many cases, owners of dangerous dogs can be held liable for the victim’s medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
You or your child or a family member has been attacked and injured by somebody else’s dog. What should you do next?
Your first job after a dog attack is to get medical help for your injuries and to call animal control. You’ve done that? Good!
Evidence Needed to Prove a Georgia Dog Bite Case
You have a right to claim compensation for your injuries. Documentation and gathering evidence will be key to winning a difficult dog bite claim.
However, as in all injury cases in Georgia, a dog bite victim must prove the owner or keeper of the animal is liable for the incident. A Georgia dog bite or attack victim must prove that the dog owner knew the dog had a history of aggression and that the dog owner was careless. This can sometimes be shown by proving the dog was not properly supervised.
This legal guide will discuss the types of evidence you may need for your case and the first steps you may want to take after an attack.
Info to Request from the Dog’s Owner
Be sure to get the dog owner’s name, address, and telephone number, you will need this for the animal control report and home or business owner’s insurance. If you hire a dog bite attorney, he or she will need this information to investigate your case and open a claim against the dog owner and their insurance company.
It’s also helpful to get the name of the dog’s veterinarian and, if possible, the dog’s vaccination records. You will want to verify the dog’s vaccination history.
If the dog has not been vaccinated against rabies, it may be quarantined until that infectious disease is ruled out.
Animal Control Reports
When there is a dog attack, it’s important to call the local animal control department. They should be able to provide you with information about the dog’s history, if previous complaints have been made. These reports will be especially useful to your legal team to prove the dog had issues with previous vicious or dangerous behaviors.
The animal control officer’s report about your incident will also be important to your claim. Even if the animal’s owner is unwilling to help you, you should be able to get copies from the animal control office.
Information about the Dog
When you make a report to Animal control, to an insurance company, or to a lawyer, you will need as much information about the dog as possible. If possible, take pictures of the dog and the area where the attack happened. Collect the dog’s name, breed (Pit Bull, German Shepard, Terrier, or other dog), color, size, and which home or business the dog came from. A thorough description of the dog that bit or attacked is important. A surprising number of dog owners will try to claim that the dog that attacked you was “not my dog.”
Certified Copies of Applicable Local Dog Ordinances
Information and documentation about local dog laws will be key elements to your claim for damages. These might be available through the animal control office, but can most often be found at City Hall, where statutes and ordinances are kept. Having the document certified by city officials will establish its authenticity.
You should get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of anybody who witnessed the attack. This way your legal team may contact them for statements and/or court testimony, if necessary.
Photos and Videos
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is especially true of the injuries sustained in a dog attack. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, by the time you go to trial, your painful injury may be reduced to a small scar. That scar won’t begin to tell the story.
If you truly want to demonstrate the trauma you experienced, take photographs of your injuries, including gaping flesh, torn clothing, and blood. These graphic images will help to convince the jury of your distress.
- Video footage: In this day and age, nearly everyone has a camera at their fingertips. Cell phone videos of the area where the dog attack occurred can document many important elements of the incident, including where and how the dog was restrained, where you were in relation to the dog, as well as any other relevant facts that might be required.
If the attack takes place in a public area, security camera footage from nearby businesses or even traffic intersection footage may be available to show the attack.
- Witness images: Don’t limit your photo search to pictures you took yourself. Ask any witnesses whether they happened to get a video or photo of the attack. Very often, witnesses to the event document such incidents and are willing to share their photo and video evidence.
History of Aggression
Proving that the dog that attacked you has a history of aggressive behavior is an important part of your case. Under Georgia law, you must prove that the owner knew that the dog had a ‘vicious propensity.’ This can be proven by evidence that the owner was aware that the dog had previously been aggressive toward a person or other animals or that the dog was not under the control of the owner in violation of a local ordinance. Animal control reports for the dog’s location and owner should be requested, to see if there were any prior incidents or the dog has a history of roaming. Neighbors can also be a valuable source of information. It can be worthwhile to knock on some doors to ask the neighbors if the dog has a history of aggression or being a nuisance.
Document and Journal Information
We human beings have short memories. Because the details of your attack may fade as time passes, it’s critical to document as much of your experience as possible.
Write a detailed statement of what happened as soon as possible after the attack. In addition, journaling each day thereafter can help you show the pain and suffering you endured and build a timeline of your healing process. It is also useful to keep track of the things your injuries are keeping you from doing or enjoying – mowing the lawn, attending the company picnic, or even going to the grocery store, for example. The disruptions in your life are important and should be included in your daily journal.
Additionally, your journal should include things like hours and days missed from work, the number of doctor appointments you attended, and any rehabilitation or therapy you underwent. Lost time from work and medical bills are recoverable in a successful claim, so having those details documented is important.
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Medical Follow up and Records
Almost all injury cases require medical documentation. If you don’t treat with an emergency room, a doctor, or a plastic surgeon it can be difficult to prove your injuries. Many dog bite injuries require more than one doctor visit. We recommend to our clients that they attend all follow-up medical appointments and that if consultations with a specialist or plastic surgeon have been recommended, that you attend. Failure to get necessary follow-up care can weaken your case. Your medical records will be used as evidence in your injury claim.
Consult with an Expert
Making a successful claim for damages in a dog bite case will entail bringing information together that answers all the questions the court might ask. Retaining an attorney who has experience in winning Georgia dog bite cases is one of the most effective ways to proceed.
A good Georgia dog bite attorney can help you prove the owner or keeper of the dog was negligent or careless. A lawyer will investigate the facts of the incident and the dog’s history of prior aggression. The attorney will help you prove that the owner was negligent or careless and failed to keep you safe. Experienced dog bite lawyers will use experts to evaluate your case, review and place a value on your injuries and deal with the insurance company for you.
Most personal injury attorneys offer a free first consultation to determine whether your claim can be pursued. At the initial consultation, you may be told about how much money your claim is worth and the best way to proceed with your case. We encourage all dog bite victims to explore their legal rights to build a good, provable claim.
If you’ve been injured by a dangerous dog through no fault of your own, we urge you to call The Millar Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. Speaking to a member of our top-notch legal team can help you launch your dog bite case with the best possible advantage. Call us today: 770-400-0000.