Possible Dog Bite Injuries
The injuries you suffer can range from mild to severe. Children are especially at risk for severe injuries, as their face, neck, and head are at the same height of the dog’s mouth. Older people also face additional risks, as they can easily be knocked off balance and fall, resulting in broken bones. Children and the elderly aside, anyone who is attacked by a dog is at risk for the following injuries:
- Puncture wounds and deep lacerations
- Torn tendons, ligaments, and muscles
- Broken bones
- Concussions and other head and neck injuries
In addition to physical injuries, many victims of animal attacks suffer severe emotional and psychological trauma:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The emotional and psychological trauma could have significant impacts on your quality of life, leaving you unable to sleep, relax, or go to work. Lastly, it’s important to remember there is a high risk of infection from animal bites, such as rabies or tetanus.
Dog Attacks on Children: What An Atlanta Dog Bite Lawyer Wants You To Know
Dog Attacks Happen – Even in Your Neighborhood
More than 50 percent of all dog bite victims are children, and children are more medically susceptible than adults. While only 12 percent of adults require medical treatment, 26 percent of all child dog attack victims need a trip to the emergency room or to a doctor. The most likely place for dog attacks to occur is in the home of the victim. The second most likely place is at the home of a friend of the victim. Seventy-seven percent of biting dogs are owned by the victim’s family, a relative or a friend of the family.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, dog bites pose a greater health risk for children than mumps, measles, and whooping cough combined. They are also more common than injuries from bike accidents, playground injuries, mopeds, skateboards, or ATVs. Dog bite treatments cost more than a staggering billion dollars each year. The most common victims are boys ages five to nine, and children, in general, are most frequently bit in the head, face, and neck.
The Impact of an Attack is Greater than Physical Injuries
Younger, smaller children understandably tend to be most severely injured, with infants and toddlers making up the largest proportion of children treated for dog bites at major trauma centers each year. Children may suffer physical and mental trauma caused by dog attacks for many years, and often the trauma lasts into adulthood. Some child dog attack victims develop post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), requiring years of therapy and psychological support.
Gilormo Injury Law Can Help Your Child
If your child has suffered injuries caused by a dog attack, get them to the emergency room as quickly as possible, no matter how slight the injury appears to be, and then contact an Atlanta dog bite lawyer at Gilormo Injury Law for help recovering your damages.
Animal Attacks by Other Pets
The vast majority of animal attacks are caused by dog bites. However, other pets cause many injuries as well, including:
- Horse kicks
- Cat bites and scratches
- Bites by domestic rodents, such as gerbils and hamsters
- Bites, scratches, or other injuries by exotic animals, such as “domesticated” big cats, birds, snakes, and other reptiles
Owning a pet, particularly a wild or exotic animal, requires pet owners to be responsible for knowing the laws associated with keeping that pet. If your child was injured by an animal that requires special documentation, our Atlanta dog bite law firm can investigate on your behalf.
The CDC provides some statistics on injuries caused by pets other than dogs, including the following:
- There are an estimated 400,000 cat bites each year.
- An estimated 66,000 hospital emergency visits each year are due to cat bites.
- Three children have been killed by pet wolves in the past 30 years.
- Reptile pets can also be fatal; some injuries involve strangulation instead of bites, caused by large pet snakes like boa constrictors and pythons.
An injury caused by an exotic pet is typically a strict liability offense. This means that the owner of the exotic pet may be held liable for an attack regardless of whether they were at fault because wild animals are unpredictable and typically cannot be adequately tamed. Georgia is one of several states that has a comprehensive ban on the ownership of exotic pets.
Owner’s Liability for Injuries Caused by a Dog: An Atlanta Dog Bite Lawyer Explains
As discussed above, dog owners are liable for injuries caused by a dog attack under certain conditions. One factor that can make the process of establishing liability much easier is if the bite takes place in a local jurisdiction where there is a leash law in effect. If the dog was unlawfully off a leash when it bit you, Georgia law allows this as evidence of the dog’s “vicious propensities.” In other words, if the dog owner was in violation of a local leash ordinance, you may be able to use that fact to prove owner negligence and resulting liability.
Additionally, If there is indeed evidence that the dog has attacked before, you may be able to use this information to prove owner negligence. Georgia has a “dangerous dog” classification. If there is documented evidence that the dog has bitten before, and the dog is classified as a dangerous dog, the dog owner is required to provide additional constraints. Gilormo Injury Law can determine whether such evidence exists through research into public records and other various means.
Finally, in the event of a dog attack, although it may prove difficult under the circumstances, cellphone video footage can be used to document the dog’s breed and physical characteristics, as well as whether it was leashed or not. Likewise, pictures and/or video of your own injuries can serve as evidence.
Rules for Dangerous and Vicious Dogs in Georgia
Georgia’s Responsible Dog Ownership Law includes a requirement that dangerous and vicious dogs must be registered. While it’s good to have an understanding of this law, our Atlanta dog bite attorneys will complete an investigation into what laws, ordinances, or homeowners association laws, bylaws, and regulations may have been broken or ignored that caused your injuries.
“Dangerous dogs” are those dogs that inflict a serious injury or present an imminent threat of serious injury other than simply growling, barking or showing their teeth. “Vicious dogs” are those dogs that have inflicted a serious injury upon someone who was reasonably trying to escape the dog attack.
For dangerous dogs, a certificate of registration will only be issued if the following conditions are met:
- The owner must have the dog contained in an enclosure that keeps the dog on their own property, indoors or in a locked pen, fence or other similar structure that restricts the dog to the owner’s property.
- The owner must post warning signs that are clearly visible and affixed to all entrances to all areas the dog resides in, stating that there is a dangerous dog on the premises.
For vicious dogs, a certificate of registration will only be issued if the following conditions are met:
- As with dangerous dogs, a vicious dog must be contained to the owner’s premises and there must be warning signs on the premises.
- The dog must also be microchipped.
- The owner must carry a minimum of $50,000 in liability insurance for any bodily injury the canine may inflict.
If a dog owner has been convicted of violating these rules two or more times, he or she cannot receive a certificate of registration for a vicious dog. Also, under Georgia law, a person cannot own two or more vicious dogs.
Animal Owners May Be Held Liable Under Georgia Law
Georgia law expressly states that animal owners may be held liable for any injuries caused by their dog or another animal if you can prove the following:
- The animal was vicious or dangerous;
- The owner was careless in managing the animal or allowed it to roam free;
- You did not provoke the dog/animal.
Proving these elements is more complex than it appears and each of these requires separate consideration. An Atlanta dog bite lawyer can help you understand how the law might apply to your case.
What to Do When the Owner Claims You Provoked the Attack
People are sometimes shocked to discover that others will lie or exaggerate in order to avoid responsibility, and this is no different in dog bite cases. The owner may allege that you provoked the dog when you acknowledged its presence. They may claim that you were trespassing on their property and ignored signs warning you to “beware of the dog.” If the owner is claiming that you provoked the animal attack, the best thing you can do is speak with an Atlanta dog bite lawyer.
What Your Claim May Be Worth with an Atlanta Dog Bite Lawyer
If you have to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner for you or your child’s injuries, it’s important to understand what your claim may be worth. If you can prove that the owner was negligent, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Your medical expenses
- Your lost income
- Your pain and suffering
Most non-lawyers wind up settling their claim for far less than it is worth. An aggressive Atlanta dog bite lawyer will make sure you get compensated for the full value of your personal injury claim.