Dogs make great companions but sometimes they can be dangerous. When they attack, they can cause physical injuries, disease and psychological trauma. Depending on the severity of the injury, medical treatment can be lengthy and expensive. If you’ve been bitten by someone else’s dog in Atlanta, Georgia, you may be able to get compensation. Georgia law puts the burden of proof on victims. This means you will need a skilled attorney to help you fight your case. You also need to take the right steps after the incident to give you the best chance of winning your case.
What an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Would Advise You to Do
Dog attacks can happen suddenly, and you may be too scared to really take in what is happening. However, if circumstances allow, you should get as much information as you can about the dog and the owner. If you already know the owner or the dog, it will be easy to provide this information to your attorney. Otherwise, try to recall the breed, size, and color of the dog and whether it was on a leash. If there are any photographs you can take at the scene, be sure to capture them as evidence.
You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible even if the dog bite injury seems to be minor. Not only can small wounds still lead to infection but you don’t know whether the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. What appears to be no big deal may become serious if you don’t get prompt treatment. Going to the doctor also ensures there is a record of your injury. You will need a medical report if you want to seek damages. Some of the things you may be compensated for include medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, and loss of future income.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer in Atlanta Will Help You Prove Liability
The damages mentioned above aren’t guaranteed and you will need to prove that the dog’s owner is liable. Dog bites are covered under Georgia Code 51-2-7 which addresses injuries caused by animals. To prove that the owner is liable, you must show:
- The dog was dangerous or vicious
- The owner knew this but was careless or let the dog go “at liberty”
- You didn’t provoke the dog
You will have to show that the owner knew the dog had “vicious propensities” but took no steps to protect people. Showing that the dog was not on a leash in a place where this is required is usually enough. You don’t necessarily have to prove the owner knew the dog might bite.
However, if the dog was on a leash, you will have to prove the owner knew the animal could attack. The dog may have bitten someone in the past or shown signs of aggression. In 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court said if the dog previously snapped at someone, that was a significant enough sign. Your attorney can help you to find witnesses and evidence to prove the owner knew.
It should be noted that if you teased or struck the animal, this is considered a provocation. The owner is not liable in such a situation. Georgia’s dog bite laws don’t say your presence on the owner’s property had to be lawful. However, other laws may limit the homeowner’s liability if you were trespassing. It is best to consult your personal injury attorney to get specific advice on this.
The statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Georgia
In Atlanta, GA, you have to file a lawsuit within two years of being bitten by a dog. Since it takes time to build a solid case, you should get an attorney as soon as possible. They will ensure the case is filed before time runs out. If you try to file the case after the deadline, the court will most likely throw it out.
Contact the Attorneys at Bethune Law Firm Today
Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys are ready to assist you after a dog bite incident. We have seen many such cases before, and we know the law surrounding vicious and dangerous animals. We are also well aware of what the 2017 Supreme Court ruling means. You shouldn’t have to worry about medical bills if you were hurt because of a careless owner. Contact us and we will listen to the facts of your case. We will gather the necessary evidence and prepare to fight for you in court. Call us today and we will do our best to ensure you get the benefits which you deserve.