Did you or someone you know suffer a dog bite injury in Villa Rica, Georgia? The personal injury lawyers at Kaufman Law can protect your rights and fight to recover the compensation you deserve. We will manage all the legal legwork, from gathering evidence to filing your claim on time, while you focus on healing. Don’t miss your chance to claim what’s rightfully yours. Contact Kaufman Law today for a free initial consultation and take the first step toward resolving your dog bite injury claim.

Georgia Dog Bite Laws

Many states have “one-bite” laws that say a dog owner is not liable for their dog’s first act of biting someone unless they knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressive tendencies. Essentially, this rule gives a dog one “free” bite before the law presumes the owner is aware of and responsible for the dog’s dangerous behavior.

The idea behind this rule is that owners should not be accountable for unforeseen aggressive actions by their pets if they had no way of knowing their pets were capable of such behavior. However, once a dog has bitten someone, the owner is expected to take measures to prevent further incidents, as they are now aware of the dog’s propensity for aggression.

Georgia uses a modified version of the “one-bite” rule. Under state law, a dog owner is only liable for first-time injuries their pet causes if each of the following is true:

  • The Owner Knows the Dog Is Vicious or Dangerous – The owner knows or should know that the dog is vicious or dangerous. This doesn’t necessarily mean the dog has bitten someone before – it could be based on the dog’s other behaviors or known tendencies.
  • The Owner Was Careless in Managing the Dog or Allowed It to Go at Liberty – The owner acted carelessly in managing the dog or allowed it to “go at liberty.” This could mean failing to secure the dog properly in a fenced yard or allowing it to roam around off its leash.
  • The Victim Did Not Provoke the Dog – The injured person did not provoke the dog into attacking. Provocation could include acting aggressively toward the dog, invading the dog’s personal space, threatening the dog’s owner, or trespassing on the owner’s property.

If these conditions are met and a dog owner is found liable for a bite injury, they are financially responsible for the harm resulting from the bite. This means the owner must compensate the victim for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and other injury-related personal and financial losses.

Proving That a Dog Is Dangerous or Vicious

Georgia law defines a “dangerous dog” as one that exhibits behaviors like causing substantial puncture wounds with its teeth or behaving aggressively enough to make someone fear serious injury, even if no injury occurs. Additionally, if a dog kills another pet while off its owner’s property, it can be labeled as dangerous unless it is working as a hunting, herding, or predator control dog.

A “vicious dog” is one that inflicts or causes serious injury to a person. In this context, serious injuries include those that are potentially fatal, involve broken bones, require multiple stitches, need plastic surgery, or cause prolonged health impairments.

To hold a dog owner accountable, the victim must prove two things: that the dog was vicious, and that the owner knew or should have known this fact. Evidence of viciousness might include previous incidents where the dog displayed aggressive behavior or attempted to bite people. Even if a dog has never previously injured someone, its owner might be aware of the danger if the dog previously tried to bite or aggressively chase someone.

Importantly, Georgia law contains a provision simplifying the process of proving a dog’s viciousness. If the dog was legally required to be leashed or contained but was not at the time of the incident, this is enough to demonstrate the dog’s “vicious propensity.” In other words, even if a dog is not normally vicious and its owner has no reason to believe it might be, the owner can still be liable for injuries. If the owner carelessly allowed their dog to go off-leash or roam free at the time of the incident, this is sufficient proof of the dog’s vicious propensity.

Compensation for Georgia Dog Bite Injuries

If you suffer from the effects of a dog bite injury in Georgia, you have two primary ways to recover compensation: filing an insurance claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. With a successful claim or lawsuit, you can recover money for the personal and financial losses you suffered as a result of the dog bite. This can include dog bite compensation in Villa Rica for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost quality of life

Some victims hesitate to file claims when they know the dog owner personally. However, it’s important to understand that insurance is specifically designed to handle such situations. Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite incidents, which means the compensation does not come directly from the dog owner’s personal funds. So, filing an insurance claim after a dog bite incident can allow you to recover financially without directly impacting the personal finances of someone you know.

If the dog owner’s insurance does not cover all your expenses, or if you cannot settle the claim through insurance, you might consider filing a lawsuit against the dog owner. This step involves taking legal action to prove the owner’s liability and to seek adequate compensation for your injuries and any additional losses in a court of law. Pursuing a lawsuit is more complex and time-consuming than filing an insurance claim, but it can also yield higher compensation amounts that fully cover your expenses and losses.

How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit in Georgia?

In Georgia, you have two years from the date of a dog bite injury to file a lawsuit. If you don’t act before the two-year deadline passes, you will lose your right to sue for compensation. This strict deadline means it’s important to act quickly. Working with a lawyer as soon as possible after the incident is the best way to avoid missing your chance to demand justice and fair compensation for your injuries.

How a Dog Bite Attorney Can Help

An experienced animal attack lawyer serving Villa Rica can make a significant difference in the outcome of your dog bite injury claim by managing the legal process and maximizing your compensation. Some of the ways a dog bite lawyer serving Villa Rica can help include by:

  • Investigating the circumstances surrounding the dog bite incident
  • Gathering medical records and evidence to support your claim
  • Interviewing witnesses who saw the incident
  • Consulting medical experts to assess the severity of your injuries
  • Evaluating the laws applicable to your case
  • Determining the full extent of your financial losses
  • Negotiating with the dog owner’s insurance company
  • Challenging any attempts by the insurer to undervalue your claim
  • Filing all necessary legal documents on your behalf
  • Representing you in all legal proceedings
  • Addressing any counterclaims or defenses by the defendant
  • Protecting your rights throughout the legal process

Get Legal Representation for an Animal Attack in Villa Rica, Georgia

Were you injured in a dog attack in Villa Rica? Turn to Kaufman Law for help. Our team is here to help you through the claims process and get you the compensation you need. Contact us today to get started with a free initial consultation session.

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