In Georgia, Who’s at Fault During a Dog Attack? The Dog Owner or the Person Who Was Attacked?

Feb 24, 2022

Navigating Georgia Dog Bite Laws: Owner vs. Dog Bite Victim Responsibility

Under Georgia’s dog bite law, when a dog bites a person, its owner is responsible for the attack unless the animal was provoked. Dogs can bite for various reasons, most of which are preventable. If you or your loved one has been hurt in a dog attack, you may be able to recover damages for the injuries you suffered.

Generally, suppose you can prove the dog had a history of aggressive or threatening behavior, and the owner didn’t take necessary precautions to prevent an attack, or the dog was unleashed and unrestrained at the time of the incident. In that case, you may have a good chance of recovering damages.

However, suppose the person attacked provoked the animal or was otherwise negligent in a way that contributed to the attack. In that case, they may be held responsible for some of the injuries sustained. Understanding these nuances is important, and hiring an experienced attorney who can guide you through your legal proceedings.

At Dressie Law, we have extensive experience representing dog bite victims and helping them get the compensation they deserve. We thoroughly review all relevant evidence to build a strong case for our clients to receive fair compensation for their injuries. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and options for pursuing a dog bite claim.

How to Prove Liability in a Dog Bite Case in Georgia

Georgia law specifies two general ways you can prove your case. Firstly, a dog owner who knew or should have known their dog was aggressive and/or potentially dangerous could be held liable for your injuries.

Perhaps the dog had a history of biting, stalking, or growling at strangers or was known to be aggressive with its previous owner. If the dog was a rescue with a murky history and had only been with its new owner for a short period, the owner should have been cautious not to bring the animal around people.

Secondly, if a dog roamed freely instead of being on a leash, the owner may be automatically liable for injuries, regardless of history. For example, suppose you were attacked by an unleashed dog while jogging. In that case, you may be able to hold the owner liable for your injuries, even if the dog supposedly had no history of aggression or previous attacks.

Things get more complicated if the owner alleges you provoked the animal. One of the reasons dog bite cases can get so complicated is the competing narratives. It may be your word against the dog owner unless there’s video or photographic evidence of the attack. An experienced attorney can help.

The One-Bite Rule

Georgia’s “modified” one-bite rule doesn’t necessarily mean a dog gets a free pass on its first bite before its owner can be liable for the attack. An owner might not be liable for a first bite if they can prove:

  • Their pet was properly restrained or leashed at the time of the incident
  • The dog didn’t have a history of aggressive behavior or previous attacks

In many cases, Georgia dog owners are liable for first bites because dog bite lawyers can find evidence that shows the dog had displayed aggressive tendencies or wasn’t properly restrained at the time of the attack.

Can You Receive Damages if the Dog Was an Aggressive Breed or Was Provoked?

Georgia law specifies that all dogs are harmless until proven otherwise. If a breed with a reputation for aggressive behavior, like a Pit Bull or a Rottweiler, attacked you, you’ll still need to prove the owner’s liability.

If the dog had no history of aggressive behavior and you provoked or engaged with the dog despite the owner’s objections, you may have a tough time proving the owner’s fault.

Also, suppose you intentionally or unintentionally provoked a dog by hitting it, stepping on its tail, intervening in a dog fight, or petting it while it was eating. In that case, the dog’s owner may have a solid line of defense against your claim.

What Evidence Do You Need to Prove Your Case?

As the plaintiff, the burden of proof in a dog bite case lies solely on you. To prove your case, you will likely need to gather the following:

  • Medical records documenting your dog bite injuries
  • Treating physician’s sworn statements
  • Statements from witnesses who saw the attack
  • Damaged or bloodied clothing worn at the time of the incident
  • Photos or videos of the attack scene and the injuries you sustained

Damages You Can Recover

Georgia law allows both economic and non-economic damages to be paid to the injured victim. While economic damages are tangible and have a fixed amount (medical bills, lost wages, etc.), non-economic damages can be more challenging to quantify. They typically aren’t fixed amounts and may include intangible side effects of the plaintiff’s injuries, like post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or emotional suffering.

Victims of dog bites are frequently compensated for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Reconstruction or plastic surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Mental and emotional suffering

How a Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help You

Navigating the legal landscape of a dog bite case can be complex and overwhelming, especially when you are recovering from your injuries. This is where a seasoned dog bite lawyer can make a significant difference. They can help you:

  • Understand the legal landscape and the nuances of your case
  • Review and gather evidence to bolster your claim
  • Manage communications with the dog owner’s insurance company
  • Negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf
  • Represent you in court if needed

At Dressie Law, we have extensive experience representing victims of dog bites. If a dangerous dog has caused injuries to you or a loved one, we can help. Our experienced legal team will provide the guidance and representation needed to get the compensation you deserve.

Get Legal Counsel from a Qualified Dog Bite Attorney in Atlanta

Were you or someone you love injured by a dangerous or vicious dog? If the dog’s owner is found to be responsible for the attack, you may be able to recover damages. However, getting the compensation you deserve can often prove a difficult and complicated process involving litigation in court or through negotiations with insurance adjusters.

Dressie Law is a team of experienced personal injury attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia. We are dedicated to helping victims of dog attacks protect their rights and pursue the compensation they deserve. Our attorneys will fight to hold the owner responsible for the attack and to see that you are adequately compensated for your injuries.

Call (678) 735-3734 or message us for a free case evaluation.