Cohen & Sinowski are Cobb County dog bite injury lawyers. From our office in Marietta we represent injured victims across the Atlanta-Metro area.
If you live in Marietta or any of the other cities within Cobb County, there is a good chance that you, your neighbors, members of your extended family, or/and your friends own dogs. After all, having a dog is a very American thing to do – nearly 50 percent of Americans own a dog!
But while having a dog may be standard in today’s world, and while dogs can certainly provide comfort, love, and even services in some cases, there is no doubt that some dogs are aggressive or downright dangerous. Indeed, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that there are more than 4.5 million people bitten by dogs in the United States every year.
While some dog bites are just warnings that are accompanied by shock–but not a break in the skin or any blood–other dog bites can be very serious. If you have been bitten by a dog in Cobb County, you may have a cause of action against the owner of the dog. Here’s what you need to know about dog bites and liability in Georgia:
Who’s Liable for a Dog Bite Injury in Georgia?
States operate under two different theories of liability in regards to dog bites: strict liability or negligence. Strict liability holds that when a dog causes injury to another person, the dog bite owner is strictly liable, and the injured party does not have to prove that the owner did something wrong – only that the dog bit them.
The negligence theory of liability, on the other hand, maintains that in order for a dog owner to be liable for harm caused by their animal, an act of negligence must have occurred. Negligence is the failure to act with a reasonable degree of care, and as it pertains to dog bites, Georgia Code reads that a dog owner can be held liable for damages caused by its dog when:
- The dog is known to be vicious or dangerous;
- The dog was allowed to go at liberty; and
- The bite/attack was not provoked by the victim.
This is commonly referred to the “one bite” theory of liability, in that it allows a dog one “free” bite before its owner is held liable; after the one, the owner has knowledge that their dog is vicious or dangerous, and should ensure the dog is restrained at all times as such.
Holding a Dog Owner Liable for Your Harm
In order to hold a dog owner liable for harm caused by their dog, then, you will need to prove that the dog owner knew that the dog had a propensity to attack (typically by proving that the dog has attacked in the past), and that the dog owner had shirked their duty to properly restrain the dog (i.e. Having the dog off leash when city ordinance requires dogs to be on-leash).
You will also need to prove that you were not provoking or teasing the dog at the time of attack. In order to prove all three of these elements, you may need to call on eye witnesses, turn to any video footage of the attack, and make sure that there are no holes or errors in your testimony.
You will also need to prove the extent of damages that you have suffered, which can be corroborated by financial documents, medical bills, personal statements, and more.
Dog Bites Can Be Serious
Most people have been startled by a dog at some point. In fact, a dog may even growl or jump at a person, but it is the rare dog that actually attacks and bites to the point that the victim is seriously injured. But it does happen, and when it does, the victim may incur a number of injury types, including:
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement;
- Internal injuries;
- Bone fractures;
- Serious bleeding;
- Lacerations; and
- Infection or disease.
In many cases, being attacked by a dog can also result in long-lasting psychological injuries, including anxiety and depression (often closely related to physical injuries like disfigurement) and post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD and the development of a fear of dogs is especially common in child victims.
In addition to the psychological and physical consequences of a serious dog bite injury, there may be financial consequences as well, such as the incurrence of medical bills and the suffering of lost wages and loss of earning capacity. When you file your dog bite claim, you can seek damages for the full extent of economic and noneconomic losses you’ve suffered.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in Georgia?
Timing is of the essence if you are attacked by a dog in Cobb County. The first thing that you should do is to seek medical care, including a rabies vaccination if you are not sure who the owner of the dog is or if the dog has not been vaccinated for rabies. You should also report the dog bite to the local authorities and animal control as soon as possible. Make sure you write down the name of the dog’s owner, as well as their contact information.
Next, you should contact an attorney, who can guide you through the process of initiating a personal injury claim for damages. You only have two years from the date of the dog bite to bring forth a lawsuit in court should negotiations for a settlement fail, which means you need to act quickly to initiate your dog bite claim.
Our Experienced Marietta Dog Bite Lawyers Are Here for You
At the law offices of Cohen & Sinowski, P.C., our Marietta dog bite lawyers understand the fear you may be experiencing, and the anxiety you may have about what will happen next and who will pay for your medical bills and other losses. When you call our law firm, we will sit down with you to provide you with free legal advice. If you decide to hire us, we will get to work immediately.
Our law office is in Marietta, but we serve cities throughout Cobb County, including Smyrna, Powder Springs, Acworth, Austell, and more.Please contact us today online or phone to schedule your free consultation.