Georgia’s High Court Finds Landlord Not Liable for Attack by Tenant’s Dogs

Earlier this month, the state’s supreme court issued a written opinion in a Georgia dog bite case discussing if a landlord could be liable for injuries that were caused by a tenant’s dog. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to show that any potential negligence on the landlord’s part was the cause of her injuries.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was walking her dogs when she was attacked by several dogs that had escaped from a fenced yard a few blocks away. Evidently, the dogs belonged to a family who rented a home that was owned by the defendant. The plaintiff first filed a claim against the dogs’ owners, but later joined the landlord as a defendant. This case involves only the landlord’s potential liability.

The plaintiff’s claimed that the dogs were able to escape from the fenced yard because the landlord failed to repair a broken gate latch. Apparently, shortly after moving in, the gate latch broke. To keep their dogs in the backyard, the tenants came up with a temporary solution involving tying a leash to the fence and using cement blocks to prevent the gate from opening. On the day of the attack, the dogs broke free. It was assumed that the landlord knew the latch was broken and that the tenants kept dogs on the property.

The Court’s Decision

The court concluded that the landlord could not be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the plaintiff failed to show that any alleged negligence of the landlord was the proximate cause of his injuries. The court explained that to establish a plaintiff must show that their injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s negligence.

Here, the court acknowledged that the landlord breached a duty that was owed to the plaintiff by failing to repair the broken gate latch. However, the court explained that “Georgia law does not presume that dogs are vicious or dangerous” and that the plaintiff must show that the landlord was aware of the dog’s propensity for dangerousness to prove that his injuries were foreseeable. Because the plaintiff did not present any evidence showing the landlord’s knowledge of the dog’s dangerousness, the court held that the plaintiff’s case against the landlord was insufficient as a matter of law and should be dismissed.

Have You Been the Victim of a Georgia Dog Bite?

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Georgia animal attack, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia dog bite lawsuit. At the Georgia personal injury law firm of McAleer Law, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of claims, including Georgia dog bite cases. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Discuses Availability of Punitive Damages in Recent Dog Bite Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, April 3, 2018.

Georgia Court Discusses Store’s Duty to Maintain the Area Immediately Outside Its Entranceways, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, October 19, 2018.