A landlord can be held liable for a dog bite in some situations. However, liability for a bite injury usually rests with a dog’s “owner or keeper.”
Who Bears Responsibility for Dog Bite Damages?
Some states automatically hold a dog owner responsible for injuries their animal caused under a principle known as “strict liability.” Other states follow a “one-bite rule,” which holds a dog owner liable only if they knew or should have known their dog was aggressive or dangerous. To prove liability in Georgia, you must prove the dog owner behaved negligently.
According to O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7, a dog’s owner or keeper is liable for injuries if they carelessly manage a vicious or dangerous dog that causes an injury, as long as the injured person did not provoke the animal. Additionally, the statute says that to prove the dog is vicious or dangerous, the victim need only show that a city ordinance required the animal to be on a leash or at heel.
When Might a Landlord Be Liable for Damages in an Animal Attack?
In general, a landlord is not responsible for damages that a tenant’s negligence causes, according to O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14. However, dog bite liability may rest with a landlord or property owner in some situations, such as when:
- The injury resulted from negligent property conditions: A landlord is responsible for the state of their property. Therefore, if a dog escaped and subsequently bit someone because of a negligent condition, such as a hole in a fence, the landlord may be held liable.
- The landlord was in control of the animal: If a landlord is acting as a dog’s keeper, they may be liable for injuries that happen while the dog is under their control. For example, the landlord may owe you compensation if a tenant’s dog bit you while the landlord was dog sitting the animal.
- The landlord was harboring a vicious animal: A landlord could be held liable if they knowingly allowed a tenant to keep a vicious dog, especially if the dog previously caused injuries outlined in O.C.G.A. § 4-8-21, known as the “Responsible Dog Ownership Law.”
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Can You Seek Compensation Through an Insurance Claim?
Many homeowners and renters insurance policies cover dog bite injuries, including injuries that happen off-property. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), homeowner’s insurers paid more than $880 million in dog bite claims in 2021.
If the party liable for your injury has an applicable insurance policy, an attorney with our firm can help you with your claim. However, if insurance is not an option or does not provide adequate compensation, we can assist with a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death case is two years, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
Recoverable Damages in a Dog Bite Case
Dog bites can cause severe injuries, serious infections, and scarring. You may need emergency medical care, stitches, and antibiotics. Dog bites can also result in broken fingers, tendon and nerve damage, and scarring. Unvaccinated dogs may carry rabies. Additionally, a dog attack can cause fear and trauma.
If you suffered a dog bite because of another person’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your medical care, pain and suffering, and more. Depending on your injuries, dog bite damages may include:
- Emergency department care
- Hospital stays
- Stitches or surgery
- Doctor visits and follow-up care
- Lost wages, benefits, and earnings
- Lost or reduced earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Stress, fear, anxiety, and mental anguish
Dog Bites Can Be Fatal
In some cases, dog bites can result in fatal injuries or illnesses, especially if the victim is a young child. If your loved one died because of a dog bite, you may qualify for wrongful death compensation. A lawyer with our firm can tell you more.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney for a Dog Bite Case?
You can attempt to handle your dog bite insurance claims alone, but you may find things can quickly become overwhelming, particularly if liability is unclear or your case goes to civil court. Working with an attorney also takes the pressure off you so that you can focus on getting better.
Our legal team can collect case evidence, interview witnesses, and prove liability for your dog bite injury. We will file your insurance claim or lawsuit and handle the related details, including case communications, paperwork, deadlines, and negotiations. Above all, we will fight to achieve the awards you deserve, even if that means taking your case to trial.
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Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers About Your Dog Bite Today
No matter who is liable for your injury, we are here to help you seek justice. To learn more about how our firm can serve you, call us for a free consultation. We can get started on your case today.