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Georgia Dog Bite Law

By Evan L. Kaine

Man’s best friend tends to be the cute, cuddly, slobbery and obedient. A wag of a tail can pull at the heartstrings and give in to another treat. However, many dog owners neglect to think their dog can be anything but cute and cuddly. Unfortunately, being oblivious to what a dog is capable of can have serious repercussions.

Unfortunately, each day there are 1,000 men, women or children being treated for dog bite injuries. This translates into approximately 4.5 million Americans being injured by dog bites each year. A study spanning more than 30 years determined that certain dog breeds were more likely to attack people.

The study determined that a combination of breeds, including Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Husky and Alaskan Malamute, which make-up roughly 10% of the total dog population, cause:

  • 86% of dog attacks that result in bodily injury
  • 81% of dogs attacks to children
  • 89% of dog attack to adults
  • 76% of fatal dog attacks
  • 86% of dog attacks that result in maiming

Because this particular issue has endangered so many lives, each state has its own dog bite laws to protect injured victims of dog attacks.  Over half of the states make dog owners liable if their dog bites or injures someone even if the dog owner didn’t know that their dog was dangerous.

Georgia’s One Bite Rule

However, the law in Georgia differs from most states.  Georgia’s dog bite law is commonly referred to as the One Bite Rule.  Georgia’s One Bite Rule essentially holds a dog’s owner liable for injuries the dog causes only if the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was likely to cause that kind of injury.

Simply explained, Georgia’s dog bite law states that in order for the owner to be liable, their dog must have first previously bitten or attacked a person and that dog bite to a person, must have drawn blood.

The Georgia dog bite statute reads:

A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind 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 by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured. In proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash.  O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7

Georgia’s Leash Law

The dog bite laws in Georgia recently changed to better establish a dog owner’s liability.   In 2010, the Georgia dog bite law added dog registration and liability insurance requirements for dog owners.  Georgia’s statutes go on to discuss that an owner is only liable if the dog was “dangerous” or off its leash or not under control. These statute changes were made in 2010, when the Georgia legislature added language to include that the violation of a local leash law ordinance, which was designed to protect the public from an “at-large” dog, may be sufficient to overcome the “vicious propensity” standard found in Georgia law.

The laws governing dog bites in Georgia can be complex.  If you or a loved one have suffered a dog bite in Georgia, call us for a free consultation and let us fight back for you.

 

Published May 29, 2018
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