(U.S. Personal Injury Law and generally) It is easy to say that Americans love to own dogs. They spend billions of dollars each year on purchasing dogs, buying food and accessories, and paying veterinary bills. People love to make their dogs a “part of the family.” Sadly, many of these people do not take the time, or have the patience, to teach their dogs how to behave properly around other people. Some of these people neglect the animal’s altogether, making these poor dogs aggressive and mean. A recent report was issued by the Humane Society stating that over 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with an estimated $1 billion in damages.
Dog Bite Laws
Dog bite laws will vary from state to state and in many cases city to city. While a state can set forth a specific law regarding dog bites, cities have the right to make even stricter laws. However, most areas just apply the state law to any dog bite case.
The most common law found in the United States is the “one-bite” law. What this means is that every dog is allowed one “free” bite before the owner can be held financially accountable for the actions of their dog. The law was enacted in this manner to account for the unpredictability of an animal’s actions. However, there are exceptions to the rule.
If the first dog bite caused excessive harm to a person or property, the free bite may be overlooked by the Court. In addition, if the dog escaped the property on which it was being kept and attacked someone, the free bite is almost always overlooked. In GA, Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A., a law firm attorney for dog bites in Atlanta area, stated “Nearly all fatal dog attacks involved intact male dogs, and more than half of all human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owner’s property.”
When a Bite has Occurred
Once the first bite has occurred, the owner is placed on notice with the state and will become financially liable for all the actions of that dog from that point forward.
While each state law is worded different, once the owner has been notified that there is a potential issue with their dog, the following law goes into place: “A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury, may be liable in damages to the injured person.” This quote was taken directly from the annotated version of Georgia’s dog bite statute.
The wording for this particular law in Georgia is very similar to every other state which has the one-bite rule.
Retaining an Attorney
Anyone that has been bitten by a dog should seek the assistance of a dog bite attorney. The victim of this type of event will not know if the owner has been placed on notice before, and will need the assistance of a local experienced attorney to see if they are entitled to compensation.
Additionally, since dog bite laws can vary so much from area to area, seeking the assistance of an attorney will help you to protect your rights. Your action in this manner can also help to protect others from being mauled by that same dog in the future, or have the dog removed from an abusive home to a place where it can be properly cared for and taught to be less aggressive.
Laws can be tricky, confusing and different from state to state when it comes to dog bites and legal cases. Whether it’s an attorney for dog bites in Atlanta or San Francisco, it is important for a person to retain a local injury attorney who is knowledgeable about them to represent their case. An experienced lawyer up to date on all the local, state and federal laws regarding bites will help ensure a more successful case when filing a law suit.