Is the Owner Responsible for Georgia Dog Bite Injuries If They Were Not There?

Did you incur dog bite injuries in Augusta, Georgia, when the dog’s owner was not present and you are wondering if you can hold them liable for their pet’s actions and seek compensation? The simplest way to get an accurate answer to your question is to discuss the circumstances of your case with a dog-bite lawyer in Augusta.

Georgia dog bite laws are quite controversial and leave room to interpretations, so the best way to find out how they apply to a particular situation is to consult someone who knows them like the back of their hand and has experience in cases like yours. If you are not sure you have a case, a brief overview of Georgia dog bite laws may help you figure out where you stand before reading out to an Augusta personal injury lawyer.

Georgia Laws Overview – Owner’s Dog Bite Liability

Georgia is one of the states that follow the “one-bite rule.” According to this rule, owners are only liable for the injuries their dogs inflict if their dog bit or attacked a person in the past. This does not necessarily mean you cannot obtain compensation if you cannot prove the previous bite.

However, in order to obtain it, you will have to prove the owner was aware that their dog was dangerous or vicious and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent it from biting or attacking again. The first bite, some other form of unprovoked physical attack or aggressive behavior, or even appurtenance to an aggressive race should be enough to classify the dog as dangerous or vicious.

According to GA Code § 51-2-7 (2016), owners or keepers of dangerous or vicious animals who manage them negligently or allow them to go at liberty and injure another person will be liable for the damages their animals caused to the injured persons. When classifying a dog as dangerous or vicious, the local authorities will issue a list of rules for the owner or keeper to follow.

Such rules usually include keeping the dog at heel and/or on a leash on public property. In order to prove owner liability, the dog bite victim needs to show that the animal was not at heel or on the leash when it inflicted the injuries. The fact that the owner or keeper was not present when the dog bit you does not cancel their liability.

However, it does not guarantee it, either. There are circumstances when the owner or keeper is not responsible for their animal’s behavior, even if their dog is classified as dangerous or vicious. In such cases, your efforts to obtain compensation for your injuries may prove useless, especially if you do not benefit from the assistance of an experienced dog bite injuries attorney.  We will review those circumstances below.

When the Dog Owner is Not Liable for Your Dog Bite Injuries

As mentioned above, dog owners can be held liable for the injuries their animals cause if they had reason to suspect their animal is dangerous and failed to take measures to prevent injuries. If they had no reason to suspect their dog would attack or bite someone and they acted like any other dog owner would have, chances are you will not be able to obtain compensation from them.

Sometimes, even if the dog was a vicious or dangerous one, the owner cannot be held liable, no matter if they were present or not when the injuries occurred. On the contrary, they may cast the blame on the victim. Here are the circumstances in which obtaining compensation for your dog bite injuries will be extremely difficult or even impossible:

  • You were trespassing or committing a crime or offense on the dog owner’s property
  • The dog that bit you was defending something or someone in its vicinity from an attack or assault
  • You abused or tormented the dog that bit you before or when the attack or dog bite took place
  • The dog was protecting its puppies or responded to pain or provocation
  • The dog that bit you underwent herding, hunting, or predator control training and you interfered with its activity
  • You intervened in a fight between the dog that bit you and another animal
  • The dog responsible for your injuries underwent service training and has been the companion of a disabled person

Discuss the Circumstances of Your Dog Bite Injuries with an Experienced Lawyer in Augusta, GA

No matter the circumstances of your dog bite case, you should not give up the idea of seeking compensation without consulting an Augusta personal injury lawyer first. At Ted A. Greve & Associates, we have been helping dog bite victims obtain compensation for their injuries for years. Schedule a FREE consultation with our lawyer in Augusta, GA, to find out how we can help you, too.