Dogs may be known as “man's best friend,” but not all canines are friendly. Even the ones that are might bite under the right—or, rather, wrong—circumstances.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States. Approximately 800,000 of those bites are severe enough to warrant medical attention.
Sadly, when a dog attacks, the results can be both physically and emotionally scarring. It boasts an average bite strength of 269 pounds of pressure per square inch, which is more than sufficient to break skin, tear flesh, damage nerves, and even fracture bones.
If a dog bit you, you may be entitled to compensation from its owner. Here's what you should know before taking legal action.
Georgia's Dog Bite Laws
Under Georgia law, dog owners can be held liable for bites if the offending canine was:
- Known to be vicious or dangerous and carelessly managed by the owner
- Free to roam where city or county ordinances required it to be kept “at heel” or on a leash
However, it's important to note that the dog owner isn't considered liable for injuries if an attack was provoked.
Dog Bites Don't Have to Ruin Relationships
The vast majority of bite victims—up to 80 percent, according to some estimates—know the dog that attacked them. Frequently, it's owned by a friend, family member, or neighbor, which can sometimes make people hesitant to seek the compensation they deserve, regardless of their injuries. They fear that taking legal action will ruin their relationship with the dog's owner.
Fortunately, fighting for damages for a dog bite injury doesn't have to destroy familial or social bonds. Instead of taking money out of your friend or family member's pocket, you can pursue compensation through a homeowner's insurance claim.
Dog bites are often covered by the owner's homeowner's insurance policy. In fact, according to Insurance Journal magazine, these incidents are the most common type of homeowner liability claim, costing insurers nearly $700 million in 2017 alone.
Dealing With an Insurance Company After Dog Bite Injuries
When pursuing compensation through a homeowner's insurance claim, you'll be expected to speak with an adjuster about the attack. However, before doing so, contact an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Insurance claims adjusters often act like they're on a victim's side when in reality, they're working hard to minimize their company's financial obligation. A common and often effective tactic is to use victims' words against them.
Talking with an insurance claims adjuster can be stressful, but a reputable animal attack attorney can help you prepare for the experience and avoid common case mistakes.
Potential Compensation for Dog Bite Victims
Dog bite victims can seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Self-esteem issues related to scarring or disfigurement
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If You Suffer a Dog Bite
It's essential to seek medical attention for a dog bite as soon as possible, as there's a high risk for serious infection. You should also take photos of your injuries, as these can serve as compelling evidence when negotiating a settlement or litigation a case in court.
Georgia's personal injury laws can be complex and confusing, but the skilled attorneys with Van Sant Law can help you make sense of your rights and legal options. If you have questions about pursuing compensation for a dog bite, contact the Atlanta dog bite lawyers at Van Sant Law, LLC today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation case consultation by filling out our contact form or calling our office directly at 404.991.5950. Act now, as the time to file a claim is limited.