According to this story from Gwinnett County in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two dogs on the loose in Lawrenceville, Georgia, yesterday attacked three different people, leaving an elderly man severely injured from head to toe. As a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer in Lawrenceville, I have seen way too many of these dog bite cases recently. According to the story the owner received six citations and the dogs were euthanized.
It is important to remember that the victims, especially the elderly man who was mauled, may have a long road to recovery with substantial medical bills and pain and suffering. According the news story, the elderly man was crossing the street when the dogs attacked. This should make liability against the owner clear.
Elements of a Georgia Dog Bite Claim
I have written before on the legal elements of a dog bite lawsuit in Georgia (click here for that blog post). Those elements, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 are:
- A person owns OR keeps,
- A vicious or dangerous animal,
- Which the person carelessly manages OR allows the animal to go at liberty,
- Injury is caused by the careless management or letting the animal go at liberty, and
- The injured person does not provoke the injury
As explained in my earlier blog post cited above, the second element involves a plaintiff showing a vicious propensity of the animal which attacks. However the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 contains and exception to this requirement by stating, "[in] proving vicious propensity, it shall be sufficient to show that the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the said animal was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash."
In other words, if the dogs were running loose in violation of a local ordinance, as the AJC story seems to indicate, the vicious propensity element will be met.
Gwinnett County's Dog Bite / Animal Running at Large Ordinance
Gwinnett county has such an ordinance. Gwinnett County code section 10-71 states:
(a) It shall be unlawful for any owner or possessor of any dog to fail to keep the dog under restraint or control as provided for in this section.
(b) A dog is considered not under restraint or control when it is running at large, whether wearing a collar and tag or not . . .
Are the Funds to Pay for a Dog Bite Victim's Recovery?
One question for the victims of yesterday's dog bite attacks will be the source of recovery. Does the dog's owner have homeowners liability insurance and/or an umbrella policy to cover the damages to these innocent victims? Dog bites are actually the number one source of homeowners insurance liability claims.
Let's all hope that the victims in these Gwinnett County dog bite attacks yesterday in Lawrenceville, Georgia, are able to recover to good health.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog bite, please contact Gwinnett County based personal injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.
Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.