Dog Bites

Vicious dog attacks can affect all people, but the most common and severe injuries are to children. Nearly 4.5 Million Americans are bitten by dogs each year and one in five bites is serious enough to warrant medical attention. Close to 30,000 people each year have to undergo reconstructive surgery for lacerations, scarring and other disfigurement from dog bites.    

Atlanta, Douglasville, Villa Rica, Hiram, Dallas and most other Georgia communities have leash laws which require a pet owner to have the animal fenced or otherwise restrained when on private property so that they cannot roam freely off into public property.  Leash laws also require that dogs be on a leash when on public property.  Should an owner violate these laws and if you or a loved one are injured by a dog, then you may recover medical bills, pain and suffering and potentially punitive damages from the owner. All you have to do is show violation of the leash law, and then you don’t have to show that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities.  

In some rural areas, there are no leash laws.  If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog where there are no leash laws, then you still may recover from the dog’s owner.  But in this instance, you must show that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner was aware of this.  Under the current law, vicious propensity cannot be shown merely by showing that the breed of dog was one that has a reputation for being vicious, e.g., Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepard or Doberman.  You still must show that the owner had prior knowledge of the violent tendencies of the dog. This has been commonly referred to as the “One Free Bite Rule.”  Again, an owner or insurance company may claim they don’t have to pay your medical bills or pain and suffering, but this rule does not apply if there is a leash law! And fortunately, most communities now have leash laws to protect the public from vicious animals.  

Make sure to get animal control involved.  First of all, they will verify that the animal has been adequately vaccinated for rabies.  If they cannot very this, then animal control will quarantine the dog for a period of time to make sure that it does not display signs of rabies.  You will likely need to get an updated tetanus shot if outdated, and rabies treatment if the dog that bit you is infected with that.  Dog bites are often jagged cuts and puncture wounds which may require plastic surgery.  Finally, perhaps the most profound effect can be mental trauma, i.e., post-traumatic stress.  You may need to have therapy, and the mental effects may be most pronounced in children attacked by dogs.  

Most animal owners have insurance coverage for their animals under their homeowner’s insurance or umbrella policy.  In addition, there may be other insurance coverage depending upon what insurance you carry.  Just like in any other claims situation, insurance adjusters are not looking out for your best interest.  They will adjust the claim, but they will pay you the absolute minimum they can.  You should consult with an attorney so that you can be sure that you have discovered all of the insurance available to you and that you get the fair amount you deserve for your injuries.   Call Kenneth Crawford for a free consultation today at (770) 920-2000.

Important Steps to Take After Enduring a Dog
Bite Wound In West Georgia

A person hurt in such a manner is often shellshocked. They can be emotionally shattered, vulnerable, and even disfigured. Still, the law requires even victims to be diligent in mitigating losses and protecting injury claims in order to be indemnified. You need to prove your case. These tips can assist:
•    Call a first responder – Even if it seems like this is not a major injury. An untreated bite can lead to rabies or serious infection, perhaps also leading to amputation. Even a claw scratch can have severe consequences. Seeing a doctor is vital, even in the emergency room.  If you have not had a tetanus shot, you will be re-immunized.  
•    Determine who owns or controls the aberrant animal – Make sure that this person is on notice so that the animal is secured or quarantined.  In addition, you can determine if the animal is up to date on its rabies vaccination.  
•    Identify the liability insurance company providing potential coverage - This is crucial.  As discussed, there may be more than one policy of insurance.  In some cases, your own insurance may provide potential coverage for your wounds.  You should consult with a lawyer to make sure you have identified all of the sources of insurance available to you.  
•    Call the local City and County animal control agents, and police, and lodge a complaint – The County dog police, or city animal control officer, may wish to impound the animal to prevent future injuries and test it for mange, rabies, or other disease. They may even discover that the animal has attacked others, declare it a danger, and could have it destroyed.
    Preserve of Evidence – It is crucial to take photos of the attack location, holes in fences that the dog escaped through, names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses or anything else that proves your story and who controls the animal. This can include daily photos of your injury and slow recovery. Preserve your clothes and the blood, dirt, or other issues for the case.

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