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Common Misconceptions About Dog Bites in Georgia's Personal Injury Law

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

When it comes to man's best friend, the last thing anyone wants to consider is the potential for injury. However, dog bites and related injuries do occur, making it crucial for dog owners and the general public to understand their legal rights and responsibilities.

Today, we're busting some common myths about dog bites in Georgia's personal injury law. Whether you're a dog owner or someone who's suffered from a dog-related injury, it's essential to separate fact from fiction to navigate the legal landscape effectively.

Misconception #1:

Trespassers Can Always Sue for Dog Bites

Contrary to popular belief, trespassers may not have a strong legal footing if they're bitten by a dog while unlawfully on someone's property.

Georgia law typically requires that a person legally be on the premises to claim damages for a dog bite. Therefore, a trespasser may have difficulty pursuing a successful personal injury claim. However, there can be exceptions, particularly if the dog owner's negligence is proven, so consulting a legal expert is always advisable.

Misconception #2:

Dog Owners are Always Liable

While it's natural to assume that a dog's owner is automatically responsible for any injury their pet causes, this is not always true under Georgia law. Liability often hinges on whether the dog had shown previous "vicious propensity" and whether the owner was aware of it.

Furthermore, if the injured party provoked the dog or was negligent in their actions, this could affect the outcome of a personal injury case. In short, each case is nuanced and may require professional legal advice to sort out liability.

Misconception #3:

Homeowner's Insurance Always Covers Dog Bites

Many people assume that a dog owner's homeowner's insurance will automatically cover any damages resulting from a dog bite. While this is often true, it's not always the case. Some insurance policies have limitations or exclusions, especially for breeds considered "dangerous" or "aggressive."

If you're a dog owner, it's crucial to review your policy carefully. And if you're a victim, don't assume that an insurance payout is a given; consult an attorney to explore all your options.

Misconception #4:

Only Bites Count

Georgia law allows for a broader interpretation of what constitutes a dog-related injury. This can include a dog knocking someone over or scratching them. Understanding this can be crucial when speaking with a personal injury lawyer about your case.

Misconception #5:

Verbal Warnings Suffice

Some dog owners think that merely warning someone about their dog's temperament is enough to absolve them of any legal responsibility if a bite occurs. While issuing a warning is a responsible action, it does not automatically relieve an owner of liability.

Georgia law examines various factors, including the owner's knowledge of the dog's "vicious propensity" and whether adequate precautions were taken.

Misconception #6:

The Dog Will Be Put Down

There's a common perception that any dog that bites a human will be put down. However, this is rarely an automatic outcome. Decisions like this are usually made after a thorough investigation, often involving animal control, veterinarians, and the courts.

Essential Tips to Avoid Dog Bites

Don't Feed Unknown Dogs

Unknown dogs may become territorial over food, leading to potential bites. Always ask the owner for permission before offering treats to a dog you don't know.

Understanding the Risks for Children

Statistics suggest that children are often more likely to be bitten than adults due to their size and behavior. Supervision and education are key to preventing these incidents.

Respect a Dog's Space

When you're near dogs, particularly those you don't know well, respecting their space is vital. Quick movements, loud noises, or entering their territory uninvited can trigger aggressive behaviors.

Dog Breeds and Statistics: What You Should Know

While it's important not to generalize or stigmatize specific dog breeds, statistics do indicate that certain breeds are more frequently involved in bite incidents. However, it's crucial to understand that breed alone is not a reliable indicator of a dog's propensity to bite or attack. Factors like upbringing, socialization, health, and environment often play significant roles.

That said, according to studies and compiled data, some of the dog breeds more frequently involved in bite incidents include:

  • Pit Bull Terriers

  • German Shepherds

  • Rottweilers

  • Doberman Pinschers

  • Bullmastiffs

It's worth mentioning that these statistics can vary by region and over time, and Georgia does not have breed-specific legislation. However, local ordinances can sometimes target specific breeds. So, it's wise to consult your local laws and a knowledgeable dog bite lawyer in Atlanta to understand your rights and responsibilities as a dog owner.

If you are a dog owner of one of these or any other breeds, it is crucial to adhere strictly to leash laws, adequately fence your yard, and take other necessary precautions to prevent potential incidents.

If you've suffered from a dog attack and are looking for a dog attack lawyer near you, these statistics might help contextualize your case when you discuss it with an injury attorney in Buford or elsewhere in Georgia.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the intricate landscape of a dog bite lawsuit in Georgia can be challenging. Whether you're a dog owner worried about liability or someone who has suffered a dog bite, seeking advice from a qualified dog bite lawyer in Atlanta or an injury attorney in Buford is essential.

Being well-informed can help you understand your rights and options, ensuring that you're adequately prepared, no matter what side of the leash you find yourself on if you are

concerned about liability or if you've suffered a dog bite, accurate information, and legal advice are critical.

If you have questions or need legal guidance about injuries caused by dog bites, don't hesitate to reach out. The Edmonson Law Firm is here to help. Schedule a free case assessment with John Edmonson by booking online or calling us at (678) 271-9111 during our normal office hours.

Infographic about Georgia's dog bite laws

Thank you for reading, and stay safe!

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