Dogs and Animal Bites

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According to statistics compiled by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), dogs bite 4.7 million people a year.  About 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites every year, and half of these incidents involve children.  Of that number, more than 3750,000 are serious enough to require treatment at an emergency medical facility.  The rate of dog bite–related injuries is much higher for children than adults.  Almost two thirds of injuries to children ages four and younger are to the head or neck area.  Injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls.

The law in Georgia makes it challenging for dog bite victims to successfully recover money damages in these cases.  In order to prevail, a person injured by a dog must be able to prove that the dog was “dangerous or vicious,” that the owner knew this fact, and that the owner was careless in his control of the animal or allowed it go at liberty.  However, when a dog is allowed to go “off leash” by its owner in violation of a leash law, it is not necessary to prove that the dog was viscous or dangerous.

Many Atlanta dog attacks involve animals that have never been proved to have bitten anyone before.  While this presents a challenge to the injured victim (unless a leash law was violated), there are ways that the “first bite” defense can be overcome.  If the owner has knowledge, for example, that his dog has snapped at (but never actually bitten) another person, this is often sufficient evidence of a dogs “dangerous or vicious” nature.  Potentially liable dog owners are naturally reluctant to admit these facts, so it is essential to interview all of the owner’s neighbors to determine whether they have knowledge of any such prior occurrences.  The successful handling of dog bite cases in Georgia often comes down to old fashioned hard work.  Witness testimony is crucial, and neighbors are often reluctant to get involved.  However, unless they are contacted, interviewed, and deposed (if necessary), dog owners will often successfully argue that no evidence exists to establish that their Rottweiler/Wolfhound/Pit Bull mixed breed dog posed any danger at all.

Our Atlanta dog bite injury firm represents families throughout Georgia in dog and animal attack cases, auto accidents, premises liability and wrongful death.  We are especially sensitive to issues involving injured children, and strive to create a comforting atmosphere to lesson the stress of these emotional cases.  If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog or other animal, please contact our office to discuss the matter over the phone or we would be pleased to schedule a meeting to meet with you personally.

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