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The Legal Consequences of Dog Bites

“Man’s Best Friend.”

It’s the title that dogs have carried for many years, and while many loyal pets deserve the moniker wholeheartedly and then some, the relationship between man and animal has not been without its share of mishaps.

Dog bites are grounds for legal actions, and owners maintain full responsibility for the actions of their animals. Should a dog bite a guest, a passer-by, or any other individual, the dog’s owner will be liable for any damages.

State Statutes

Dog bites are classified in Georgia state law under Code Ann., § 51-2-6 to 7. There are varying circumstances to dog bites, but the charges and whether or not you can be indicted as an owner hinge mostly on the location in which a dog bite occurs.

Code § 51-2-6 reads “If any dog, while not on the premises of its owner or the person having charge of it, kills or injures any livestock, the owner or person having charge of the dog shall be liable for damages sustained….” This law, while primarily intended to protect livestock on neighboring farms from dog attacks, could potentially also be applied to a neighboring pet. This means if your dog sneaks out of your property and kills or maims a neighboring animal, you could be liable for the damages.

Likewise, Code § 51-2-7 states that should any dangerous animal be allowed to go at liberty and cause any injuries, including catastrophic injures or even death, the owner will be liable for the damages and could even face criminal charges for the ownership of a vicious animal. Likewise, your dog could be at risk of being ordered to be euthanized.

Preventing Dog Bite Lawsuits

The state of Georgia has instituted a series of legal codes which together have been deemed the “Responsible Dog Ownership Law.” These codes (Ga. Code Ann., § 4-8-20 – 33) set the legal precedent for what can be done should a dog become “vicious,” or inflicts serious injury either to a person directly, or causes serious injury to a person in their efforts to escape from attack.

As such, responsible dog training and ownership is a must for any Georgia resident looking to own a pet. Have your pet spayed or neutered, be sure to train your dog to heed your commands at all times, and always keep your dog on a leash when taking it out in public. We also strongly encourage you to consider adopting a dog from a local shelter if you are looking for a new pet. When you do so, make sure you select a dog whose personality blends with yours and your family’s to ensure a happy, lasting relationship.

Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. is an Atlanta personal injury firm, specializing in catastrophic injuries. If you or someone you know has been a victim of an attack by a dog or other vicious animal, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys have more than 60 years of combined experience and have recovered over $200 million in compensation for our clients. We may be able to help you with your case.

Call our Atlanta personal injury law lawyers today at (404) 869-8600 today or contact us online for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.