Georgia dog owners must exercise care in keeping their animals and ensuring the safety of the public. Georgia public policy is reflected in O.C.G.A. § 4-8-1 which states that “[i]t is the intention of this chapter to establish as state law minimum standards for the control and regulation of dogs and to establish state crimes for violations of such minimum standards.” Georgia law also provides for the recovery in civil courts for personal injury and property damage caused by dogs and other animals.
Georgia has two relevant imputable negligence statutes that affect the owners of animals and canines. Any person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and carelessly allows the animal to go free, thus causing injury to another person by an unprovoked act, may be held legally responsible for any damages.
Under the statute, a dog or other animal must be “vicious” or “dangerous,” which may be proven by showing that the animal was required to be leashed pursuant to a city ordinance. Also, the animal must be free and at large because of the careless management of the owner. Any person injured must not have provoked the animal into the attack.
Georgia law in O.C.G.A. § 4-8-21(a)(2) defines a “dangerous” dog as any dog that:
(A) Causes a substantial puncture of a person’s skin by teeth without causing serious injury; provided, however, that a nip, scratch, or abrasion shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph;
(B) Aggressively attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no such injury occurs; provided, however, that the acts of barking, growling, or showing of teeth by a dog shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph; or
(C) While off the owner’s property, kills a pet animal; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall not apply where the death of such pet animal is caused by a dog that is working or training as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog.
Thus, a bite that is a substantial puncture or an aggressive attack where a person believes that the dog posed an immediate threat of serious injury is necessary before a dog will be considered “dangerous” under Georgia law. Also, if a dog kills another pet, the law will consider it “dangerous.” If a dangerous dug runs free and because of an unprovoked attack causes an injury, the owner will be held liable for any losses. In a case heard in March 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a dog with a history of snapping at someone could be enough to show that a dog was dangerous. The ruling recognizes that a snap is simply a bite that missed its target.
The attorneys at H. Lehman Franklin, P.C. have the experience and competence to take every measure to protect your rights if you’ve been bitten by a vicious or dangerous animal. Our office is located at 127 North Main Street in Statesboro, GA (30458). We proudly serve Bulloch County, as well as the surrounding counties of Candler, Evans, Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, Screven, and Jenkins. Contact our office by telephone at 912-764-9616, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check us out online at hlfranklin.com. We’re available to meet your legal needs Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM.