Frequently Asked Dog Bite Questions
Dog Bite FAQ’s
What should I do if I’ve been bitten by a dog?
Estimates suggest there are more than 4.5 million dog bites in the United States each year, with roughly 20 percent of dog bite victims requiring medical care afterwards.
While being attacked by a dog can understandably trigger a person’s flight response, it’s important to follow these steps at the scene and in the aftermath of the attack:
- Get the dog owner’s contact information and insurance details.
- Get contact information from any eyewitnesses.
- Take pictures of your injuries and damaged clothes.
- Ask the owner for the dog’s rabies vaccination records. If the dog wasn’t up to date on its rabies shot, see a doctor right away to receive preventative treatment against the disease.
- Even if the dog was current on its rabies shot, seek medical help by going to the emergency room or urgent care.
- Report the incident to your local animal control agency, such as Fulton County Animal Services if the attack occurred in Fulton County.
- Write down what happened before, during and after the attack. Try doing this as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to recall important details.
- Discuss your case with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer specializing in dog bite cases. A qualified attorney can help you recover compensation for your injury.
Who is liable for a dog bite in Georgia?
In Georgia, a dog owner is generally liable for a dog bite, especially if they were negligent (didn’t keep their dog on a leash) or the dog attacked you unprovoked. Even if the dog had no prior history of biting someone, you can still hold their owner liable for your injuries.
Keep in mind, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, if a dog bites a trespasser or a person attempting to harm it, the dog’s owner likely won’t be liable for the attack.
Does Georgia follow the one bite rule?
Georgia follows a modified one bite rule. According to the modified one bite rule, a dog owner is held liable for a dog bite if they were aware of their pet’s vicious behavior. A dog can be considered vicious even if it had no prior history of biting others at the time of the attack.
In Georgia, a dog is deemed vicious when you can prove at least one of the following behaviors:
- History of biting others (this is the most common and easiest way to prove a dog is vicious)
- Excessive growling
- Chasing others
- Aggressive barking
- Lunging at strangers or its owner
- Aggression toward other animals
- Exposing teeth to people and animals
What kind of compensation can I claim for a dog bite?
There are several types of compensation you can recover in the aftermath of a dog bite. As a dog bite victim, you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering and any loss of income stemming from your inability to work while recovering from your injury.
Often, dog bites can cause psychological trauma, anxiety or permanent disfigurement. If you’re experiencing trauma from your attack or your injuries have left you scarred or permanently disabled, you have every right to pursue compensation for these life-altering losses.
How can I defend myself against a dog attack?
If a dog darts out at you completely unprovoked, defending yourself against a dog is a lawful necessity. You can prevent dog attacks by:
- Not approaching a dog while it’s sleeping or eating
- Staying out of range of dogs that are tethered or chained
- Avoiding eye contact with aggressive dogs
- Yawning – dogs interpret yawns as signaling a lack of threat
- Not making any sudden movements
If a dog knocks you down, it’s better to roll into a ball and protect your face and torso. Wrestling a dog or lashing out may elicit greater excitement from the dog.
What kind of insurance covers dog bites?
Generally, a dog owner’s homeowners insurance or renters insurance can cover dog bites as part of their liability coverage. If a dog owner didn’t have a valid insurance policy at the time of the attack, they may be forced to cover the victim’s expenses out of pocket.
Can I file a personal injury claim if a dog attacked me at a dog park?
Yes, you can pursue compensation for a dog bite that occurred at a dog park. However, just like with other dog bite cases, you will need to prove the dog owner was negligent and knew their dog was vicious but allowed it to roam the park unleashed. For instance, if you learn from eyewitnesses the dog displayed aggressive behavior to both dogs and dog owners in the past, you can use these statements to prove the dog was, in fact, vicious.
How can a dog bite attorney help me with my case?
An experienced dog bite attorney can help you file a personal injury claim and maximize your compensation. Trying to establish fault for your injuries while you are focused on recovering from a dog attack can be an overwhelming experience. A personal injury attorney can make the process a lot easier by helping you gather necessary evidence to determine the dog owner’s liability, calculate and negotiate a fair settlement and take your case to trial if necessary.
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