Georgia has a "one bite" rule that states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages inflicted by his/her dog if the owner knew or should have known of the dog's propensity to bite. O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7. The owner is expected to know of the dog's propensity to bite people if the dog has bitten someone before. Hamilton v. Walker, 235 Ga. App. 635, 510 S.E. 2d 120 (1998). Once a dog has bitten someone, the dog owner must register the dog with the Georgia Dangerous Dog Control Office as a "dangerous dog." O.C.G.A. § 4-8-25.
Once a dog is designated as a dangerous dog, the dog's owner essentially becomes the insurer of the dog. If the court finds that anyone is liable for the dog bite, the dog owner will be held solely liable for any injuries caused by a dangerous dog. O.C.G.A. § 4-8-30. For example, if the mailman leaves open a backyard gate that confines a dog registered as a dangerous dog, and the dog escapes and bites someone, the owner will be 100% liable for the dog bite, notwithstanding that the mailman contributed to the dog running loose.
If a stray bites you, you have little legal recourse because you must file your claim against a dog's owner or keeper. Your municipality is not responsible for the dog, even if you have called the animal warden several times to pick up the stray.
In all dog bite cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the incident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite, call Law Office of Donald P. Edwards now at 404-526-8866 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.