Dogs Attack Three People in Gwinnett County

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:

  1. A person owns OR keeps,
  2. A vicious or dangerous animal,
  3. Which the person carelessly manages OR allows the animal to go at liberty,
  4. Injury is caused by the careless management or letting the animal go at liberty, and
  5. 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.

Georgia Dog Bite Prevention for Children

Preventing Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite cases in which a child is killed or seriously injured are some of the most traumatic and emotional cases for children and their families, as well as for lawyers in the personal injury and wrongful death practice areas. We hear all too frequently on the news of children who are mauled by vicious dogs and left with serious disfigurement, scarring, and with death sometimes even resulting. This blog entry is by Lawrenceville, Georgia, based serious injury and wrongful death attorney Richard Armond, who handles cases in Gwinnett County and throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. 

CHOA article highlights safety tips for children around dogs to prevent bites

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) is not only a top flight medical organization for metro Atlanta children, but they also frequently provide useful information for parents to use to keep children safe. One particular resource they have is an article on dog bite prevention (click here for the CHOA article). They note "[m]ore than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States, and 800,000 require medical attention—at least half of them children."

The informative CHOA article includes dog safety tips for children, signs that a dog may bite, and what to do if a dog bites your child. Of particular note is that parents should teach their children how to behave around a dog and should always supervise their children around dogs. If a child is bitten, immediate medical attention should be the number one priority. 

The article mentions in closing, and this is very important to protect you and your child's rights to recovery in a civil lawsuit, that you should always report a dog bite to (1) your local animal control and (2) the police in more serious bite cases.

It is important to report dog bites to local authorities

I have written before on Georgia law regarding what must be proved to establish a dog bite case (click here for that previous entry with a more in-depth summary of Georgia law on dog bites). In general, one must establish the dog owner's knowledge of the "vicious propensity" of a dog to prove a claim (unless there was a violation of an ordinance such as a local leash law at the time the bite occurred). That is why it is so important to report dog bites.

There may be no public record showing a past vicious propensity of a particular dog, but local animal control may have knowledge of past issues with a dog in which no formal record was made. It is also, in general, good to have official documentation of an incident. Even in minor dog bite cases the documentation at least makes a record should the dog do harm to another person.

If your child has been attacked by a dog

If your child has been attacked by a dog or other domesticated animal and you would like to speak with a Georgia personal injury and wrongful death lawyer please contact Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

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.

Neighbor Heroically Saves Walton County, Georgia Child from Dog Attack

Pit Bull Attack Injures Boy--What is required by Georgia law to hold a dog's owner liable?

According to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Walton County, Georgia, woman saved a boy from a vicious attack by three pit bull dogs. According to the story the woman risked her own life to save her neighbor. She was injured and the boy received serious facial injuries and was flown to Egleston Hospital. 

Dog bites are much more common than one may think. I have written before on how they are the number one basis for homeowners insurance liability claims. The pertinent statute in animal bite cases is O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7. This statute provides:

“A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured. 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. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated fowl including roosters with spurs. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated livestock.”

What are the elements of O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 that must be proved in asserting a claim?

The elements of this statute are:

  1. A person owns OR keeps,
  2. A vicious or dangerous animal,
  3. Which the person carelessly manages OR allows the animal to go at liberty,
  4. Injury is caused by the careless management or letting the animal go at liberty, and
  5. The injured person does not provoke the injury.

How does one prove the dog is a vicious or dangerous animal?

Unfortunately, a single attack, though seemingly evident of a vicious or dangerous nature, is insufficient under Georgia law. In Georgia a plaintiff must show "whether the dog had the propensity to do the act that caused the injury and, "if so, whether the owner had knowledge of that propensity." Wade v. American National Insurance Co., 540 S.E.2d 671, 246 Ga. App. 458 (2000). In fact, the law even presumes presumes "that dogs, regardless of breed, are 'of a harmless species . . .'" Steagald v. Eason, 300 Ga. 717, 797 S.E.2d 838 (2017).

In other words to hold the owner or keeper of the dog liable you must prove (a) the dog had a propensity to bite, attack, etc. and (b) that the owner/keeper knew of such propensity. One prior similar incident will typically be sufficient to overcome summary judgment. Dog bite cases often require research and investigation regarding animal control records, interviews of neighbors, and any other sources of information regarding the dog's vicious nature. This is especially true if a dog bite occurs inside the owner/keeper's home, in a fenced yard, or other place where the dog is not roaming freely.

However, the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7, has an exception to the propensity and knowledge requirements outlined in the paragraph above in cases where the dog was required by some ordinance or law requiring the dog to either (a) be on a leash or (b) be at heel. If a dog attack occurs in a jurisdiction (and many cities and counties in Georgia have leash laws) with such  an ordinance, then the vicious propensity can be shown by mere proof of a violation of the ordinance.

Let's all hope for a healthy recovery for the child and the neighbor. Vicious attacks such as the one in the AJC story can result in catastrophic, life-altering injuries, and even death. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or loss in a dog bite or dog attack case, please contact Gwinnett County based 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.

Dog bites are the number one source of homeowners liability claims.

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Based in Gwinnett County, he handles serious injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Call him for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585.

Dog bites are the number one source of homeowners insurance liability claims, and, according to the Insurance Information Institute, they account for more than one-third of all homeowners liability payouts. In Georgia, under O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7, a dog owner can be liable for a bite when he either (1) knew of the vicious or dangerous nature of his dog and was careless in managing the dog or let it go at liberty, or, (2) lets the dog go at liberty when he is required to keep it “at heel” or on a leash by any city or county ordinance (this second method proves a vicious propensity in the dog without requiring any history of prior viciousness). In all cases the dog attack victim must not provoke the attack. The statute applies to all animals, with the exception of domesticated fowls, and not just dogs. If an animal attacks, the owner can be held liable under Georgia law.

Dog owners, regardless of the dog’s breed, can be held liable. This is true whether it is a large pit bull, chow, or doberman, or whether the dog is a toy Maltese. Obviously in many cases, the larger and stronger the dog, the worse the injuries will be. Dog owners can be held liable for bites that may require a few stitches as wells as the horrific dog attacks we sometimes hear of on the evening news. It is important to get an attorney working on a case right away. Key witnesses such as neighbors move away over time. When a vicious propensity of a dog is a key element to prove in these cases you want an attorney getting to work right away.

The full text of O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7 reads:

“A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act may be liable in damages to the person so injured. 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. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated fowl including roosters with spurs. The foregoing sentence shall not apply to domesticated livestock.”

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury because of a dog bite please contact attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

For a link to the Insurance Information Institute statistics, click here.

The information above is for informational purposes only 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.