Articles Posted in Dog Bites

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Pit Bull.jpgLawmakers out in Pacifica, California are currently discussing passing a law requiring pit bulls to be spayed or neutered after a pregnant woman, Darla Napora, was bitten to death dozens of times by her own pet pit bull. The pit bull, covered in Mrs. Napora’s blood and hovering over her body when officers arrived, immediately was tied up by police officers. Unfortunately, the pit bull was able to break free and charged at the police officers as they tried CPR to restart Mrs. Napora’s heart. The dog was shot by the police officers.

The law requiring pit bulls to be spayed and neutered was passed in San Francisco in 2005 after Dianne Whipple was killed by a dog in Jan. 2001 and 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish was mauled by his family pit bulls in 2005.

The President of Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in San Francisco, Jason Walthall, admits that this law has no doubt been effective. Walthall stated: “We did see the number of pit bulls being surrendered to our shelters drop fairly dramatically.”

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Dog Bite Rock.jpgRecently, a pit bull attacked a pregnant woman who lives in Cobb County, Georgia. The pit bull initially attacked the woman’s dog but then attacked her. Luckily, the courageous woman kicked the dog and then grabbed its neck to protect her unborn child. We hope that both the mother and child are okay.

Everyday dogs attack people and leave their victims with serious injuries ranging from serious head trauma, facial lacerations, permanent disfigurement, broken bones, severe scarring, and sometimes death. In Georgia, as with everywhere, many times the victims are young children and the elderly. And as a person that has experienced several dog attacks, I also understand how psychologically traumatizing (long term) a dog attack can be. You/your loved one deserve to be compensated for the injuries and damages caused by dog bites, and vicious dog attacks.

We have written about dog attacks before on this blog. In that article we focused on the nuances of Georgia law that may prohibit you from maximizing your recovery, if you do not choose your lawyer wisely. In this article however we want to focus on what you should do immediately after being bitten by a dog, to help protect you and others, and to maximize your recovery for the injuries caused by dog bites, and vicious dog attacks. Whether you live in Dekalb County, Cobb County, Fulton County, Floyd County or Whitfield County, as long as you live in Georgia, you need to consider taking the following steps after being attacked (bitten):

1. Immediately seek emergency medical attention for your injuries;

2. Identify the owner of the dog that bit you and get his or her name, address, home telephone number, and social security number (if possible);

3. Take photographs of your injuries and preserve any torn clothing;

4. Detail, in writing, what happened to you (if you are in a condition to do so), being as specific as possible;

5. Do not talk to any insurance adjuster!

6. Contact a good dog-bite lawyer; and
7. Immediately contact your county’s animal control authority. Here is a list of a few:

a. Fulton County Animal Control, click here
b. Dekalb County Animal Control, click here
c. Cobb County Animal Control, click here
d. Gwinnett County Animal Control, click here
e. Whitfield County (Dalton, GA) Animal Control, click here
f. Floyd County (Rome, GA) Animal Control, click here

Your animal control authority can do a few things to help you. First, if a dog bites anyone, it must be quarantined to see if it shows signs of rabies or being vicious. Second, animal control can determine if a citation can be issued against the owner and then, animal control can issue a citation or ensure that a citation is issued against the owner of the dog that bit you. Reading our other article will demonstrate the importance of the citation with respect to a violation of local leash laws and your ability to maximize recovery for your injuries.

As stated, contact a lawyer immediately, tell the lawyer about the incident, and get feedback. Typically dog bites cases involve homeowner’s insurance coverage and you will need a good lawyer to deal with this process because the insurance companies’ goal is to pay you as little as possible for your injuries. That means the company will attempt to convince you to settle your case before you understand the full extent of both your injuries and your legal options.

You also need a good lawyer to protect you from your own health insurance company. Many times your health insurance company will seek reimbursement for medical expenses it paid on your behalf. A good lawyer will know how to shield you as much as possible from this situation. Other issues may involve worker’s compensation and federal assistance. The best option is to find an attorney who has effectively handled dog-bite cases.

Your compensation will ultimately depend on the facts of your case as they apply to Georgia law, and the extent of your injuries, especially long term. You need a lawyer who will maximize your negotiating position and demonstrate a conviction to take your case to trial, to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
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Pit Bull.jpgDid you know that almost every minute of the day, someone has to be treated for a dog related injury? It’s true. Dogs bite people, often. The question for you, and probably the reason why you are reading this article, is: can I recovery from the owner of the dog that bit me? In Georgia, the answer is not as simple as you may think. Just because a dog bites you doesn’t mean that you can recover. Although complicated, these are few details to consider.

For years, Georgia law has provided owners with a way out: the first bite rule. The courts considered two things. First, did the dog exhibit the propensity to bite or attack before the incident occurred? Second, did the owner have knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensity to attack? If the answer to either of those questions was no, then there stood a good chance that, in Georgia, you could not recover for your injuries. The courts basically reasoned that owners should not be held liable for an unforeseen and unforeseeable act of his dog just because the dog was not in his immediate control. The times and the law however have changed.

In 2010, the first-bite rule has some exceptions, and lawyers have developed crafty ways to get there clients the compensation they deserve for their injuries. A legislative change to Georgia law is that, now, a violation of a local leash law ordinance, or another ordinance designed to protect the public from an “at-large” dog such as restrictive ordinances designed to keep dogs confined, may be sufficient to overcome the “vicious propensity” standard found in Georgia law. Around 1985, Georgia lawmakers decided that it was just too irrational that an owner violate a leash law and still escape liability because of the vicious propensity rule. However, addressing leash laws and other ordinances is not so straightforward and requires the knowledge of a good attorney.

In addition, new case law indicates that courts may consider whether the owner had prior knowledge of her dog’s tendency to attack someone and superior knowledge of her dog’s tendency. This standard, if used by a court, provides much more “wiggle” room than the vicious propensity standard, for a seasoned attorney to make your case and win compensation for your injuries.

Furthermore, you should also consider a new route that many lawyers have taken to advocate strongly for clients who have suffered injuries inflicted by a dog attack: negligent undertaking. Basically, if an owner agrees to restrain his dog before you come onto his property and fails to do so, then a court may find that the owner is liable even if the dog had shown no prior vicious propensity.

Lastly, did you know that even if a person did not own the dog that bit/attacked you, that person may be held liable if she had undertaken to “care” for the dog and while caring for that dog, the owner violated a dog-related ordinance or applicable law? Or did you know that when a dog is part wolf or wild animal, the owner will be held strictly liable, meaning you or your attorney do not have to prove “vicious propensity” or even “superior knowledge.”

As you can see, dog bite cases are complex. The point of this article is to show you that in order to maximize your recovery for a dog-related injury, you need a good lawyer who knows this area of law; ultimately your case, your recovery, depends on how well your lawyer can apply the facts of your situation to the nuances of Georgia law, to either win in court or deal effectively with insurance companies who want to pay you little-to-nothing for your injuries.
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