Dog bites can have devastating health consequences, even beyond the bite itself. These injuries can result in scarring and disfigurement. In serious cases, they can lead to serious infections.
In Savannah, the law allows a dog bite victim to pursue legal action against the animal’s owner in some cases. While monetary compensation might be possible, these claims have unique challenges that set them apart from other personal injury claims.
If you have suffered a dog bite injury, it can help to speak with a Savannah dog bites lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Bader Scott Injury Lawyers at (404) 888-8888 for more information.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury
The steps you take after a dog bite can benefit you in two important ways. First, immediately addressing the injury gives you the best chance of avoiding serious health complications. Second, seeking legal counsel right away can help protect your injury claim. To maximize your chances of a successful claim, take the following steps after suffering a dog bite injury:
- Seek medical treatment. If the wound is superficial, administer first aid and clean the area. If the bite involves deep lacerations, apply pressure to stem the bleeding.
- Document the attack. Do not attempt to catch the animal, but take pictures of the dog when possible. Identify the owner of the dog if they are also present.
- Contact animal control. Notifying animal control is an important step for multiple reasons. It can help get a dangerous animal off the streets and potentially identify its owner. It also creates a paper trail documenting the attack.
- Contact a lawyer. After you have addressed your medical needs, it is important to also protect your legal rights. An attorney could assist you in pursuing a claim against the owner of the animal that bit you.
For a free legal consultation with a lawyer serving Savannah, call (404) 888-8888
Potential Health Risks of a Dog Attack
The potential health complications stemming from a dog bite extend far beyond cuts and bruises. In some cases, a dog bite can have permanent consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical attention is necessary in one out of every five dog bites. In addition to the bite wound itself, the primary risk stemming from a dog bite is the spread of infection or disease. Aside from infections, bites can also spread bacteria, including Pasteurella and MRSA. Viruses like rabies are common as well. In rare cases, these conditions can be fatal.
Scarring and disfigurement are other common consequences of dog bites. Any bite location can scar, with bites to the face being the most visible examples. It is not unusual for the scars from a dog attack to remain visible forever.
Finally, nerve damage is another serious injury that can result from a dog bite. Nerve damage is especially common with bites to the hand, and make use of the hand challenging in the future. Nerve damage is possible regardless of the dog’s size, as important nerve endings are little more than skin deep.
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Georgia Dog Bite Laws
Every state approaches owner liability for dog bites differently. Some states take a broad approach that allows victims to hold owners accountable in most situations. Georgia law is more restrictive but recovering on a claim is still common. Unlike some states, the statute applies to attacks from nearly any animal instead of limiting it only to dogs.
When it comes to dog bites, Georgia Code Annotated § 51-2-6 covers owner liability. According to the statute, a plaintiff must establish three elements to recover compensation on a dog bite claim. These elements include:
- Showing that the animal was vicious or dangerous.
- Proving the owner was careless with the animal or allowed it to roam “at liberty.”
- Showing that the injured person did not provoke the animal.
This statute makes Georgia what is known as a “negligence” state. In other words, a plaintiff must do more than simply identify the owner of the dog that attacked them.
These cases frequently hinge on whether or not an animal was vicious or dangerous. Frequently, the first two elements of a dog bite injury claim will run together. This is due to Georgia courts holding that animals in violation of city or county leash laws can be considered vicious or dangerous. In other words, an owner allowing their dog to roam freely might meet the first two elements of the statute.
Violating a leash law is not the only way to establish the first element of the statute. However, it is often the easiest for a plaintiff to prove. Otherwise, a plaintiff must show that the dog owner knew their animal was dangerous and failed to take steps to prevent the attack.
This can be challenging, given that only the dog owner can say what they were aware of. At trial, a plaintiff can use other evidence to show the owner was likely aware of the dog’s dangerous nature. The most common example includes evidence that the dog has attacked someone previously.
One of the strongest defenses to a dog bite injury claim is also present in the statute. Even if a plaintiff can establish the first two elements, they are not entitled to compensation if the defendant can prove they provoked the animal.
It is not always obvious whether or not a dog bite will result in a strong personal injury claim. To learn the value of your case, discuss your options with a Savannah dog bites lawyer from Bader Scott Injury Lawyers right away. Call (404) 888-8888 to get started.
The Right Time to Contact an Attorney
It is in your best interest to contact a Savannah dog bites lawyer soon after an animal attack. The process of investigating these claims can be time-consuming, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you can put the event behind you.
The Bader Scott Injury Lawyers know how to hold the owners of dangerous animals accountable. They can guide you through each step of the process. Call today to set up a free consultation.