Should I Call Animal Control Related to an Animal Attack?Calling your county Animal Control Service after an animal attack is important for several reasons. First, it gets a neutral government agency involved to document the bite and to issue any citations to the animal owner for misconduct. Second, if the animal’s owner is not present, or they are unwilling to provide you with their name and phone number, Animal Control can help you track down the dog’s owner and obtain the information which you will need for any insurance claim. Finally, Animal control can help get the dangerous animal off the street, preventing other people from getting injured.
To find your local animal control phone number, just Google your county and “Animal Control.” For your convenience, major metro Atlanta animal control numbers are provided below, along with numbers for other large Georgia counties:
- Bibb County Animal Control: (478) 621-6774
- Chatham County Animal Control: (912) 652-6575
- Cherokee County Animal Control: (678) 493-4080
- Clayton County Animal Control: (770) 347-0210
- Clarke County Animal Control: (706) 613-3540
- Cobb County Animal Control: (770) 499-4136
- DeKalb County Animal Control: (404) 294-2996
- Douglas County Animal Control: (770) 942-5961
- Fayette County Animal Control: (770) 631-7210
- Forsyth County Animal Control: (770) 781-2138
- Fulton County Animal Control: (404) 613-0358
- Gwinnett County Animal Control: (770) 339-3200
- Hall County Animal Control: (770) 531-6829
- Henry County Animal Control: (770) 288-7387
- Muscogee County Animal Control: (706) 225-4512
- Paulding County Animal Control: (770) 445-1511
- Richmond County Animal Control: (706) 790-6836
- Rockdale County Animal Control: (770) 278-8403
Are there Exceptions to These Rules?
Yes, and an experienced attorney can walk you through them. For example, the law makes an exception when the person claiming injury first provoked the animal. Likewise, dogs do not have to be on-leash in every location, such as in a private home or enclosed yard. In those situations, there must be proof of some greater negligence by the dog owner, or proof that the owner knew about past vicious behavior by the animal. Likewise, different rules apply to dogs than might apply to other domesticated animals, police K-9s, and farm animals. Additionally, if a dog has been classified as dangerous through a specific legal process, the owner may be required to purchase and maintain additional insurance. Courts may require such dog owners to take additional precautions, and the owner can face criminal penalties for non-compliance.
Does Every Dog Get One Bite?You may have heard that every dog gets one bite, and it’s true that some states have a “one-bite” law. In those states, dog owners are not automatically liable for harm caused by a dog, unless that dog has attacked or bitten someone in the past. How could the owner know the dog is dangerous, one might argue, unless that dog has been aggressive in the past?
Georgia’s law, however, is a little bit different. We could call it a “modified” one-bite rule. In Georgia, city laws called “ordinances” come into play. Most cities and localities have “leash laws”. The law presumes that a dog owner is responsible for any injury caused by the dog if: (1) there is a city ordinance requiring the animal to be on a leash or at the heel, and (2) the dog is off leash when the bite occurs. Across Atlanta, in almost all public areas, dogs are required to be on a leash. (Except for dog parks, of course). Therefore, in most places in Georgia, the owner of an off-leash animal is liable for injuries caused by that animal, because they allowed the animal to roam free, negligently failing to control the animal.
There is no separate requirement to prove that the dog is “vicious” or “dangerous” or that the dog had behaved aggressively before. As long as there was a leash law, and the owner ignored it by having the dog off-leash, the statute imposes liability on the owner for any resulting injuries.
Damages Available After a Fatal Dog Bite Injury
Fatal attacks are tragic, and the entire family experiences a loss. The spouse and minor children of a victim are entitled to substantial damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. On top of burial and funeral costs, this compensation includes loss of companionship and income that the victim would have earned during their life, and sometimes punitive damages.
How Much is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
Getting bitten by a dog is often traumatic, and serious injuries require an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney. If you were bitten by a dog, requiring medical attention, you are likely entitled to financial compensation under Georgia law. However, the amount you can receive will depend on the extent of your injuries, the medical bills that you incur, lost wages, and the other circumstances of your case. Our attorneys work to gather proof of your injuries, then negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf, and file a lawsuit when necessary. Claims against owners for dog bites can lead to compensation in the form of money damages, including economic damages, non-economic damages, and maybe even punitive damages.
What Should You Do If You Get Bitten by a Dog?
- In an Emergency, Call 911. Keep in mind that this call will be recorded.
- Get the full name and phone number of each dog owner. If they will let you take a picture of their drivers’ licenses, that is an easy way to get what you need.
- Seek Medical Attention Immediately. If you need emergency care, that’s your top priority. If your injury is serious enough to require medical attention, get it quickly. If you have health insurance, notify the hospital and ask them to bill it. Also, be honest and thorough when completing medical intake forms – keep in mind that you are creating the medical evidence that a jury may someday see. Keep records from doctor's office or hospital visits, along with copies of bills, to give to your lawyer.
- Ask whether the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, or if has other conditions or illnesses you should be aware of. Keep in mind that dog bites can transmit rabies, MRSA, tetanus, and other illnesses.
- Get Insurance Information. If the owners have liability insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or renter’s insurance, get the name of the insurer, as well if the policy number if possible.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses. The people present at the time you were injured can vouch for your version of events, and help you prove your case. You and the dog's owner may later disagree about liability.
- Take pictures. If you can, get a picture of the dog, your injuries, and anything in the area that supports your version of what happened. For example, an open gate or a hole in the fence that the dog came through can demonstrate that a dog was not properly enclosed. A picture of the dog may prove that it did not have a leash on.
- Write a Letter to Your Attorney (even if you don’t have one yet). This allows you to document your injuries as best you can in a way that is not discoverable. Writing down the details of what happened while it’s fresh in your memory may give your (future) attorney the key information needed to prove your case.
- Talk to Your Employer: If you were injured by an animal on the job, even if no one was at fault, you have a workers’ compensation claim. You should immediately report it to a supervisor, preferably in writing, listing each part of your body that was injured. You may also have short-term disability or long-term disability insurance of your own through your job. Finally, your employer can keep records of time that you miss from work due to your injuries, which will support your eventual lost wage claim.
Common Animal Injury Claims
- Puncture Wounds
- Broken Bones
- Severe pain