Leashed Dogs DO Bite

When it comes to the very technical business of presenting a personal injury case, attorneys must recognize the importance of tiny details. It is usually easy to see the damage done, but establishing carelessness or negligence in a case can be very tricky. Nevertheless, since such judgments must be made, we often find ourselves laboring over the meaning of a single word or phrase. Here’s a good example.

Proving Your Case in a Dog Bite Lawsuit

In order to recover for damages in a dog bite case, the plaintiff must prove that three factors are present. According to  the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7, a plaintiff must show that (1) the owner carelessly managed or allowed the animal to go at liberty; (2) the animal was vicious or unrestrained at the time of the injury in violation of a local ordinance requiring such restraint; and (3) the animal caused the injury.

In the case of Myers v. Ogden, Ga. App. (2017),  the dog owner was leading an 80 pound dog on a leash in a city park. The dog was tethered by a two-foot leash and the woman, who was 6-foot tall and weighed 165 pounds, testified that she was physically capable of handling the animal. The dog had no prior history of aggressive behavior but, he did, in an instant and unexpected lunge, bite the hand of a man who came near to the dog as he was being walked through the park.

The bitten man, the plaintiff, filed suit and quickly entered a motion for partial summary judgment on the matter of negligence. The trial court granted this motion and issued a judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant dog owner appealed this judgment claiming that the trial court erred because there was no proof that the dog had been carelessly managed.

The Importance of Having Control of Your Dog

The appellate court, looking carefully at the case, ruled that the trial court should not have granted the motion for partial summary judgment.

  • The woman was in compliance with the local ordinance as the animal was leashed appropriately
  • The dog was not previously known to be aggressive or dangerous

However, the question of whether or not the dog was actually in the woman’s control remained. Obviously, at the moment the bite occurred, the woman did not have control of the animal so, technically, she was in violation of the local ordinance requiring her to keep her dog within her control at all times. The local police did, indeed, issue a warrant for arrest to the woman for this failure.

Mistakes Made in the Court Room in this Case

In the matter of the dog bite, the plaintiffs did not establish as a matter of undisputed fact that the dog bit him as a result of the dog owner’s careless management. The appeals court opined that the question of the meaning of the words “carelessness management” was sufficient to require the deliberation of a jury. This judgment was sent back for trial.

A small technicality is enough to derail even what appears to be a ‘slam dunk’ case of negligence. In this case it is the meaning of the phrase ‘careless management.’ Dog bite cases can be difficult to win. For this reason, victims are wise to choose a law firm with lots of experience in winning these cases.

Hire Our Dog Bite Lawyer to Increase Your Odds

Call the personal injury lawyers at The Millar Law Firm for a free evaluation of the facts in your case. You may be able to recover for the pain and suffering inflicted upon you by the carelessness of others.