Dog Bites

Atlanta Dog Bite Attorneys

Fighting for Victims of Dog Bite Injuries Throughout Georgia

The guidelines for liability and damages when a person is bitten by a dog are extremely nuanced and complicated. The state of Georgia’s rules surrounding these cases are notorious for being especially complex and difficult to understand. Consequently, you may not be sure of your rights or what to do in the immediate aftermath of an animal attack. Fortunately, you do not have to go through the process of recovering damages alone.

At Morrison & Hughes, we have the experience, resources, and dedication needed to help you secure just compensation for the serious consequences of dog bites. Our Atlanta dog bite lawyers have a complete understanding of how these claims are adjudicated, and we will leverage this knowledge in our fight to get you the optimal result you deserve. 

Do not wait to get in touch if you recently suffered dog bite injuries. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (404) 689-2734 or contacting us online

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Understanding Georgia’s Dog Bite Laws

When it comes to dog bites, Georgia enforces a modified “one bite” rule. Broadly, this means that a dog owner is not necessarily liable for the first instance their animal hurts someone else if they never previously had any reason to believe their dog could be dangerous. After “one bite” (or violent incident), the dog owner should be reasonably aware their pet could be dangerous, making them liable for any additional harm that occurs because of their negligent failure to secure their animal.

Georgia Leash Laws

The “one bite” rule is complicated by local city ordinances. Many cities and localities throughout the state, including Atlanta, enforce leash laws. Generally, leash laws hold pet owners liable for the injuries their dog causes if the animal was not on a leash or at heel in a public place. (Dog parks are an important exception.) When leash laws apply, it does not matter if the owner had no reason to believe their dog could be violent. Any injury can trigger liability.

Exceptions to the “Rule"

There are two important exceptions to keep in mind. First, a dog owner may not be liable for injuries caused by their pet if the bite victim did something to provoke the animal. Second, leash laws do not apply to private residences and enclosed yards, meaning you do not automatically have a case if an unleashed dog bites you while you are present in someone’s home. 

If you are struggling to make sense of these laws, you are not alone. Our Atlanta dog bite lawyers can review what happened and determine whether you have a strong case.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

A dog bite may not seem like a big deal in theory, but the reality is that many dogs are enormous animals whose teeth can do severe damage. Even a single bite can require extensive and expensive medical treatment.

Dog bites can cause many types of injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Disease transmission
  • Infection
  • Puncture wounds
  • Scarring
  • Significant pain

Hire the Law Firm That Bites Back

A dog bite can quickly upend your life if you become temporarily or permanently unable to work. You should not have to worry about how you will cover lost wages or mounting medical bills. With over 75 years of combined trial experience, we are not afraid to go to court and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

Call (404) 689-2734 or contact us online today.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dog Bites in Georgia

  • What Should I Do If I Was Bitten by a Dog While on the Job?

    If you sustained dog bite injuries while on the job, you likely have a workers’ compensation claim, regardless of whether the dog’s owner was at fault. You should immediately report the incident and your injuries in detail to your employer. We can help you explore your options for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

  • What Types of Damages Can I Recover in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

    The value of your claim will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. With that said, you are generally entitled to both economic and non-economic damages.

    We can help you get just compensation for many types of losses, including:

    • Pain and suffering
    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Property damage (such as torn clothing or a broken phone)
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Disfigurement
  • How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Georgia?

    In Georgia, the statute of limitations for dog bites is typically two years from the date of the attack. If you miss this deadline, you will most likely be unable to recover any damages.

  • What Should I Do If I Cannot Locate the Attacking Dog’s Owner?

    In some scenarios, you may be attacked by a dog with no apparent owner. It is possible that the dog escaped its home, or the owner may negligently fail to keep track of it. If you cannot immediately find the owner after an attack, consider calling your county’s animal control department. This neutral government agency will document the incident, secure the loose animal, and help track down the dog’s owner. Calling animal control may also be a good idea if the dog’s owner is present at the scene but refuses to give you contact information.

  • 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.
when you have been injured, we won't back down It can feel like the system is designed for you to lose- but with attorneys who don't back down on your side, you can fight- and win.