When a dog owner fails to protect an individual from being attacked by their dog, it goes without saying that they should be held liable. That’s where a Macon dog bite lawyer can help. Millions of Americans are bitten by dogs annually, something that results in hundreds of thousands of people visiting emergency rooms with, in most cases, serious dog bite injuries. Something worth noting about a majority of these cases is that the owners of such dogs could have, to a greater extent, prevented the attacks from happening. If a dog has bitten you, you must get in touch with a personal injury attorney in Macon at Calvin Smith Law. For free legal advice and representation, call XXX-XXX-XXXX now!
What Dogs are Considered Dangerous in Georgia?
According to Georgia law, a dog is considered dangerous if:
- It attacks a person aggressively in a manner that causes the victim to believe that it (the dog) posed a threat of causing serious bodily harm to them or another person even though no injury occurs.
- Its teeth cause considerable punctures on a victim’s skin even if the injuries caused aren’t that serious.
- It kills another animal (pet) while off its owner’s property – however, it is worth noting that this does not apply in cases where a pet animal death was caused by a dog that works as a or was training to become a predator control dog, herding dog, or hunting dog.
In short, a dog is considered vicious if it causes or inflicts serious injury to an individual even though the victim was trying or had made reasonable attempts to get away from the animal.
Serious injuries in dog bite cases refer to any form of physical harm that poses a death risk to the person affected. By definition, serious dog bite injuries are any injuries that result in lacerations that require one or more sutures, death, disfiguring avulsions, or broken or dislocated bones. They also refer to any injuries that require the victim to be hospitalized or undergo plastic surgery or which lead to them suffering from protracted health impairments, including the transmission of contagious infections or diseases or the impairment of bodily organs.
What Pushes Dogs to Attack People?
According to statistics, most dog bites requiring urgent medical attention generally involve children. As a parent, you must find ways to protect your child from dog attacks; and one of the best ways to do so is to warn them about touching animals they do not know.
In most cases, when a dog attacks a person, it bites or looks to bite their face. Why do they choose the face? But most of all, why does a dog attack in the first place? The reasons why might surprise you:
To Show Power or Dominance
In most cases, when a dog bites a person, whether they know them or not, it is usually as a way of asserting their power. The canine, in such circumstances, is trying to show the individual that they’re the leader of the territory they are in, and no one should be in it expect them. A dog may show similar signs of aggression when their routine behaviors such as playing, cleaning, or sleeping are interrupted. It is, therefore, advisable that you avoid irritating a dog when it is resting and that you avoid approaching dogs that seem territorial. That does not mean that you should be afraid of them; just avoid them.
When a dog is anxious or afraid, and you startle it or approach it without unexpectedly, this suddenness could lead to the dog lashing out at you. It is the same way we humans react when someone we know, or even a stranger, startles us or approaches us unexpectedly. Naturally, when a dog is startled, it assumes that you are trying to harm it when approached without warning.
When dogs are being punished, they often act equally to the individual punishing them. As such, when disciplining your dog, you must exert punishment appropriately while treating it right. As you already know, hitting or physically abusing a dog is considered animal abuse and is something that might be regarded as if the dog that bit you was often abused.
What are Georgia’s Dog Bite Laws?
Georgia dog laws clearly show the route to follow when seeking compensation for dog bites. In Macon specifically, there are few unique guidelines one must follow when it comes to controlling and owning an animal. For example, the law states that all dogs within the city limits must be on a leash anytime when they are in public spaces, not unless in designated dog parks. A Macon city police will give you a citation when walking a dog off its leash.
Furthermore, dog owners should have their pets within their sight and voice control; when they are in designated dog parks. It is the responsibility of a dog owner to control it when the dog shows signs of aggressive behavior. In Georgia, the bite laws protect pet owners more than other states. Dog owners or the animal’s keeper is responsible for their pet bites (dog bites) only when the complainant can prove that they did not provoke the dog if the pet was vicious or dangerous, or/and if the pet owner was careless or negligent.
In some states, a pet owner is responsible for no-matter the situation, reason, or circumstances. However, in Georgia, the injured victim bears the responsibility to provide proof. According to the statute, dog bites and other forms of harm related to a dog’s action, such as jumping on a person and making them fall; the pet owner is responsible, but proof must be provided. Compensation will only apply when the pet owner broke any Macon’s Animal Ownership and control laws, which is proof of negligence. With the help of a professional dog bite attorney, you will get the help you need when seeking compensation for pet ownership broken Macon laws or negligence.
Related: Is There Really a One-Bite Rule in Macon?
Statistics For Dog Bite Injury
Dog bite occurs every day across the USA. Even though a majority of these bites are not serious – meaning that it does not cause significant injuries or huge medical bills, it is important to note that even minor bites may be painful and creates financial losses nor-matter how small. Nonetheless, many of us tend to ignore when the injuries sustained when a dog bites. But, we often forget that dog bites can be fatal and life-threatening, especially to children and the elderly. Research shows that 392 people died due to canine-related attacks across the USA, from the year 2005 to 2016. In the year 2016 alone, 42% of the total number of dog bite victims where kids below the age of 9 years, and 31% of that number were infants between the ages of 3 to 6 days.
Let us come back to a more recent dog bite case – A child by the name of Logan Braatz, who was only 6 years old, and living in Macon lost his life and another child injured in the same dog attack that involved two dogs (one a pit bull and the other a pit bull mix). According to reports, the loose dogs attacked the children on their way to a bus stop. According to area neighbors reports, the two dogs were often let loose in the area. This is one of the many examples of dog bites that occur in Macon, Georgia.
In this case, the dog owner was negligent, by the decision taken of allowing two dogs to run loose, despite the pet control law of Macon. If you or anyone close to you is a victim of a dog attack ion Macon, it is wise to seek the services of a lawyer soon.
What To Do After A Dog Bite?
Reporting the incident should be the first thing to do after a dog bite. It is essential to get the name of the owner and the dog’s description. It is also vital to get the name and contact information of any eyewitnesses. Do not forget to seek medical attention immediately, as well. There is a high probability of getting infections, which require antibiotic treatments after and dog bite. The best thing is that all Macon, Georgia dogs must have up-to-date vaccinations.
If a dog does not have an up-to-date vaccination record, then you may need additional treatment to prevent diseases or infections, like:
- Capnocytophaga (this is a bacterial infection)
- Pasteurella (also a bacterial infection)
- MRSA (Staph Infection)
Although it is very rare to get rabies, it is still a serious disease that may come from a dog bite. Rabies in human causes symptoms like; headaches, fever, etc. If this condition is left untreated, it may cause paralysis, confusion, hydrophobia, hallucinations, and death. The moment rabies has developed symptoms; there is no effective way to treat the disease. However, immediate medical treatment after possible exposure is the most effective way to prevent this condition from developing into something deadly.
Therefore, it would be wise to seek immediate attention after a dog bite. After doing all this, exploring your legal option against the pet owner is the next step. Do not forget to let a lawyer help you.
How Often Do Dogs Bite People?
According to research, 327 million residents across the US own over 90 million dogs. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports, there are over 4.7 million dog-related bites every year. Using these numbers, it clearly shows that a dog bites 1 person out of 69 people. Although a majority of the cases do not result in injuries, more than 800,000 people require medical care every year. According to a 2017 insurance journal, insurance firms have paid more than $700 million dog-related claims.
Does the Size of a Dog Matter When Filing a Claim?
It doesn’t matter the size or type; all dogs do bite. The only difference is that small dogs often cause fewer injuries compared to larger dogs. In other words, dog size goes hand in hand with the severity of injuries.
The bottom line is, a bite from any animal has the potential of causing physical damages like infections, scarring, or nerve damage. Furthermore, a bite from any animal may create mental and emotional trauma to both children and adults. A majority of bites related to small dogs often occur in homes or places where the victim is familiar with. Many small dog bites involve breeds such as:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Jack Russell Terriers
Therefore, if a small dog has injured you or someone close to you, then you still have the same right to file for compensation like any other victim. Our professionals are ready to work with you to seek the compensation you rightfully deserve, no matter the extent, type, or dog size.
Can Workers’ Compensation Cover My Dog Bite Injuries?
Workers’ compensation applies to any person who has incurred an injury during working hours or working environment. It is important to note that mail carriers, deliverymen, and other employees whose primary work involves walking onto private properties are given ‘implied invitation’ to any property. Therefore, if a worker in such a field and attacked by a dog during a job, then they can submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
NOTE: The primary function of a Workers’ Compensation Insurance is to provide help or benefits to workers who have been injured while on duty. In other words, if a worker, by chance, gets injured on the job, they will receive medical and lost wage compensation benefits. Therefore, if a dog bites any employee while at work, they qualify for a workers’ benefits compensation and also may have a claim against the dog owner.
A third-party claim can offer an injured person with additional compensation for suffering and pain, together with other forms of losses not covered by workers’ compensation.
Is a Dog Bite Case Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
If a dog owner does not have proper cover, a dog bite victim can still file a legal claim against a dog owner to seek compensation.
Depending on the case circumstances, a homeowner’s insurance may cover dog bite damaged that has occurred within the property line. Some car insurance policies still cover dog bites, especially in cases where the bite took place in an owner’s vehicle. A victim can also receive compensation through animal insurance in the case where the owner has decided to buy such a cover.
In situations where the owner does not have insurance, the victim can still seek damage compensation. To know if a dog owner was insured, our experienced lawyers will do this by requesting to see the declaration page of the animal, renter, or homeowner insurance policy. If all insurance policies are deemed inadequate, the next step is determining if the owner has a supplemental policy that may cover the incident.
In a situation where a pet owner decides not to cooperate, unwilling to share details, or denies having insurance, do not worry because we can still get these documents during the discovery phase of the lawsuit. This is where lawyers of both parties meet and share information regarding the injuries and attacks.
Defining Liability For Dog Attacks
According to the Macon, Georgia dog bite law, a dog’s owner is the defendant. However, the level of a dog owner’s liability varies depending on the case. Nonetheless, a dog owner is responsible for the action and all actions of their dog, no matter what. In many states, there are only two exceptions of this rule; first, if the dog was provoked (in this case, the victim’s negligence will count), and second, if dog bite occurred on the owner’s property and there are legible warning signs (in this case the owner will not be found liable, not unless the victim is under the age of 6 years).
What Is The Statute Of Limitation When It Comes To Dog Bite Claims?
The statute of limitations simply refers to a period from the day of the incident or accident, in which a victim can file for a compensation claim. The moment, the period expires, a victim cannot file for a claim. What does this mean for you? Well, it merely means that the moment a dog bites you, you should not wait too long; In fact, it is wise to consult an attorney immediately.
Why hire an attorney? Well, here are the reasons you should let a lawyer handle your dog bite claim:
Did you know that today less than 1% of the victims receive dog bite compensations? This is very alarming because it has been estimated that 4.7 million Americans get bitten by dogs every year. Also, insurance companies pay about 16,000 for such a case. In fact, those seeking compensation without the help of a lawyer even get much less than this. According to research, despite the fact that many insurance companies pay out victims, many dog bite cases go unreported, and therefore, many do not receive compensation. Remember, without the help of an attorney; you have little chance of getting what you deserve.
An insurance adjuster may offer a victim 10% of what they deserve. This is why you need a lawyer in your corner so that you can get the amount you deserve. In order to protect their bottom line, they will end up keeping 80 or 90%. However, because a dog bite or attack layer works on a contingency fee basis, they will only take 33%, and the victim will receive 66% of the amount. This is much better than a 10% claim payout. Furthermore, with a lawyer’s contingency fee basis, you will not pay for anything out of pocket or if compensation is denied.
Do Lawyers Handle Dog Bite Claims on a Contingency Fee?
Contingency fees can be defined as a payment that does not come from a victim’s pocket. In other words, the fees paid to a lawyer is contingent on receiving compensation. If the attorney is unable to recover anything, the victim will not owe anything to the attorney or the law firm.
Whenever a person decides to pursue a dog bite claim without the help of a professional lawyer, they are putting themselves in the position of a prosecutor. Of course, this comes with resentment and unnecessary accusations driven by the fact that the victim does not know what to say or the right steps to take. As a matter of fact, many victims will end up making accusations that are not related to the case or unnecessary under the law.
With the services of a lawyer, a victim will receive guidance and the best way to tackle each situation. Furthermore, it makes deflecting criticisms easy, which will reduce stress on your part. Additionally, dealing with the case will be efficient, with no financial risk. Another benefit of hiring a lawyer is that they will not confront the dog owner, making them feel bad, putting them in a bad light, embarrassing them, harassing them, drive them into bankruptcy, send threatening letters, have their dog euthanized, or have dog owner home foreclosed.
None-of these things will happen, not unless it will benefit or necessary for your case or a client (you) put in a formal consent. If you as the client wants the case to be handled gently towards the defendant, then that is what we will do. The moment compensation is approved, the dog owner will be happy knowing that the insurance company will handle the payout and not them. Through this method, the chances are their initial anger will not be directed towards. They will see hiring a lawyer helped the victim reach a fair conclusion.
Which Are The Common Defenses Used In A Dog Bite Case?
There are many defense tactics that may be used against you, which will most definitely depend on your state law. Here are a few of the most common defense methods or arguments used to oppose a lawyer representing a victim.
This is one of the most common forms of defenses used by a dog owner. With this defense, a dog owner will try to show that a victim provoked the dog before it attacked, and therefore, they are not liable. The defense will try to show that a victim was threatening and aggressively cornering the dog.
Although in some cases, trespassers have been given some level of protection by law (like those working in the mail and delivery industry), according to your state’s dog bite/attack law, a victim may be required to provide proof that they were legally allowed to be there. If they are unable to provide evidence, then it will be counted as trespassing, and the victim will not receive compensation.
Contributory Negligence or Assumption of Risk
In some cases, a dog owner may argue that you were partially responsible for the attack. This applies in a situation where a dog owner has clearly provided a warning, but the victim decides to disregard the notice.
Our highly-skilled, experienced dog bite attorneys fully know the tactics used to oppose compensation and how to argue against all claims effectively.
How Can Calvin Smith Law Prove Dog Bite/Attack Cases?
It indeed takes a lot of experience and skill to collect evidence in a case like this, which will be used to show victim damages are legit and deserve compensation. Our lawyers are there to help you through your compensation claim case. The moment out attorney agrees to take your case, the first thing they will do is collect evidence that will ensure the success of your case.
We have a full team of investigators, lawyers, and even support staff ready to work on your case by collecting important data to determine if:
- The dog owner was negligent and careless
- If the dog shows any vicious or aggressive tendencies
- If the dog possesses an unreasonable risk through its previous history like threatening behavior, bites, aggressiveness, past aggression against humans and attacks, or aggression against other animals.
If, for example, the dog owner fully knows of its aggression, hostile nature, or had been aggressive in the past, then the owner may be found to be negligent for failing to take the right measures to prevent the dog from harming others. Also, the owner may be found negligent by allowing the dog to escape a yard due to factors such as defective fences or off-leash.
The truth is that sometimes it is challenging to demonstrate that a dog owner was fully aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. In other words, trying to prove that a dog owner fully knows that their dog was vicious or dangerous is tough, which can only be proven through public information like local animal control records.
Such a record may show how the dog has been attacking or harassing the neighbors, which is excellent evidence to show that the owner knew the dog was aggressive.
What Type Of Compensation Will I Get After A Dog Attack Or Bite?
It is crucial to have an airtight legal case after a dog bite or attack. Injuries from an attack can include head injuries, permanent scarring, disfigurement, amputation, broken bones, cuts and scrapes, and even death. On the other hand, these injuries may be permanent, expensive, and painful. Serious dog attacks can result in death.
Therefore, out-of-pocket monetary losses may be needed because treatment included for rehabilitation, ongoing care, and even plastic surgery. Thus, if you are a victim of a dog attack or bite, you should not carry the burden by yourself. The dog owner’s business owner insurance, homeowner, or renter’s insurance policy is sufficient to cover the financial damages that include:
In the case where you miss work simply because of your injuries and lose income in the process, you can seek compensation of the same amount. Work-related records like timesheets may be used to prove the lost income. Furthermore, our lawyers can speak with vocational and economy professionals to determine the impact of the injury on future earning potential.
It does not matter if the medical expenses come from an emergency room, prescriptions, ongoing therapy, or for plastic surgery; all medical costs (even future expenses) related to the injuries sustained should be recovered. Our skilled lawyers will help you receive compensation used in medical costs through assessing medical records, hospital bills, and even medical expert interviews.
Suffering And Pain
The truth is that it is difficult to put a price on physical suffering. Still, it is possible to evaluate and calculate a fair amount based on evidence, photos, and witness statements.
Scarring And Disfigurement
If you underwent plastic surgery to repair permanent marks and scars caused by a dog bite or attack, then you deserve compensation for the operation.
A mental health expert is in a better position to determine the type of emotional harm you have experienced from the bite. The psychological expert is in the right place to explain the best treatment option in which you must be compensated.
Loss Of Consortium
If a dog severely attacked your loved one in Macon, then you may be deprived of companionship, support, and comfort. Macon, Georgia law permits the recovery of damages.
If a dog owner was negligent or knowingly allowed the attack to happen, you can file for additional damages. Punitive damages are meant to serve as punishment and discourage others from allowing such an attack to happen again in the future.
If a dog bite or attack is serious and resulted in death, then a close family member can file a wrongful death claim. This claim may include medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of life, and other forms of damages (either tangible or intangible).
Our goal at Calvin Smith Law is ensuring any area of life affected by a dog attack, or bite is fully compensated.
Other recoverable damages include:
- Counseling and Emotional distress
- Property damage
- Lost income or wages
- Medical bills
How Much Is My Case Worth?
Well, the truth is that each case is different from the other. This means that the values also different between case to case and generally depend on the severity of the injuries. For example, a claim lawsuit involving minor scars and wounds have a compensation value of not more than $50,000. According to some insurance reports, the average compensation amount is $32,000.
Severe injuries and scars tend to attract more significant settlements. For example, if a person is injured severely to a point where it leads to permanent disfigurement or disability, they will receive a compensation of not more than 300,000. We have handled many cases, and even gotten our clients’ amounts higher than this.
In Georgia, high compensation cases involve children, mostly involving facial bites, nerve damage, or loss of organs (nose, fingers, ears, etc.). Also, men cases are less valuable compared to women cases. On the other hand, the total compensation awarded in some lawsuits will be limited to the policy limit of the dog owner’s insurance.