When the Bite’s Worse Than the Bark

An estimated 2 million attacks occur each year with only 800,000 documented. While some breeds have the tendency for more aggression than others, animal attacks can happen anywhere, anytime. Sadly, many victims are under 10 years of age and dog bites alone make up for most child emergency room visits due to an animal attack.

Further, most dog bite attacks happen at a residence or in a neighborhood. In many cases, the dog owner’s insurance may be used to cover monetary damages such as hospital bills and pain and suffering. This allows a victim to seek justice against an insurance company rather than the close friend or neighbor that owns the animal.

In general, a dog with no prior bites or attacks will not be held responsible. The “one bite” rule is rooted in the law of foreseeability, meaning the owner had no way of foreseeing the attack, because one had never happened in the past. However, when a dog owner violates a local ordinance regarding animal control, such as not having her dog on a leash, the owner may be found negligent by failing to follow a safety ordinance- even when there is no evidence of a prior bite.   Many insurance companies and rental agencies already ban certain types of dogs, like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers.

Under Georgia law, dogs that seriously injure another dog or person are classified as vicious by the state, and in order for an owner to keep the dog it must be securely confined, carry a $50,000 insurance policy, and be micro-chipped. Owners of potentially dangerous and dangerous breeds must also register the dogs with the state of Georgia.

Generally, dogs exhibit certain behaviors before they strike. By teaching your family these tips, you could avoid an attack, a hospital visit, and a possible lawsuit:

  • Be aware of growling, snarling with teeth shown, flattened ears, and hair that stands up on the dog’s back. These are the key indicators of an oncoming attack.
  • Do not stare into the dog’s eyes or tease the animal.
  • Remain calm. The dog will feed off your energy, so screaming and running will only heighten the fear and anxiety in the animal.
  • If the dog does strike, put anything you can between you and the dog, like a purse, jacket, or shoe.

If your child is the victim of a dog bite or other animal attack, you should first go to the hospital, call animal control to file a report, and take as many photographs of the injury as possible. Then, you should contact an attorney who is knowledgeable in animal attack laws. Whether a dangerous breed of dog or not, the owner’s negligence may be in question.

About McAleer Law:

McAleer Law—Decatur, Georgia’s preeminent personal injury, worker’s compensation, and Social Security Disability firm—has been representing plaintiffs and injured workers for more than ten years. Specializing in lost wage, medical expense, pain/suffering, lost quality of life, and psychological injury cases, founder Charles McAleer guarantees his clients personal attention, diligence, and unparalleled service quality. McAleer also hosts a weekly radio show at 9 a.m. on News and Talk 1380 WAOK, bringing listeners sound legal advice, breaking news, current events, and other topics important to the Atlanta community. For more information on Charles McAleer and the McAleer Law Firm visit www.McAleerLaw.com, “like” McAleer Law on Facebook, or follow @McAleerLawFirm on Twitter.