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Legal options after a dog attack

At a barbecue at a friend’s house, his dog knocks you over and you break your arm in the fall. Perhaps your child suffered serious injuries after an attack by an unleashed dog at a local park.

Review the Georgia dog bite provisions that apply to these and similar situations.

Dog bite liability

Georgia dog owners have legal liability for the animal’s actions only in certain circumstances. To win a lawsuit, you must be able to prove that:

  • You did not provoke the dog to attack you.
  • The injury resulted from carelessness on behalf of the dog owner, who allowed the animal to run loose.
  • The dog has a history of vicious or dangerous behavior or local ordinance required the owner to leash the dog at the time of the attack (in a public park, for example).

Georgia defines vicious behavior by a dog as killing another pet, aggressively attacking a person or severely breaking a person’s skin. Conversely, the dog owner may try to show that you caused the dog to bite (by teasing it, for example) or that the attack happened when you were trespassing on private property.

Available legal damages

If you can prove the factors above, you may be able to collect damages for costs related to the accident, including medical expenses, lost wages in cases involving disability, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.

You have two years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim in Georgia. This statute of limitations applies to premises liability cases including dog bites.