According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States. Dog bites are not only painful but can lead to complications. Thankfully, in many cases, victims are entitled to compensation under Georgia law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you should call one of our Atlanta dog bite lawyers as soon as possible.
Georgia dog bite laws
In most states, the owner is strictly liable for any injuries inflicted by their animal. However, Georgia is a ‘negligence’ dog bite state, meaning that owners get “one free bite” before they are held liable.
The statute in Georgia, however, covers all types of dog injuries, attacks, and bites and holds the dog owner liable if:
The owner knows the dog is dangerous.
The dog is considered dangerous if it had already bitten someone in the past. Your personal injury lawyer has to prove this by proving that the dog hates strangers or goes after dog-walkers.
However, it’s difficult to prove liability if the owner claims there was no case of prior vicious behavior.
The owner was careless.
Some of the ways you may be able to establish negligence on the part of a dog owner include:
- If the dog wasn’t on a leash in areas where ordinance requires one
- If the owner was walking several dogs together and couldn’t control them
You did not provoke the dog.
The owner may be found liable if you prove that you hadn’t intentionally teased, abused, or tormented a dog that attacked you. This especially applies if you were on the dog owner’s property or in public.
Typical dog bite injuries
Dog bites commonly injure the flesh through puncture wounds leading to bleeding, pain, stiffness, soreness, bruising, and consequent scarring.
The shallow wounds don’t usually result in anything serious if adequately cleaned, bandaged, and treated with anti-bacterial creams. However, deeper wounds inflicted by large dog’s teeth penetrating the flesh and muscle may require medical treatment.
The bite may affect the ligaments, bones, and muscles, requiring deep and professional cleaning and possible stitches.
Complications of dog bites
Sometimes dog bite injuries can lead to an infection that affects the skin, bones, and muscle.
Common complications of dog bites include:
Deep infections can infect the bloodstream leading to a condition called sepsis. If left untreated, the victim can end up in the ICU as bacteria quickly spread through the body.
The saliva of a rabies-infected dog can transfer the virus through a dog bite, and spread to the brain. Rabies is often fatal, and the symptoms appear days and sometimes years after the bite.
Bacteria living in a dog’s mouth can spread through dog bites or scratches in those with low body immunity.
Pasteurella is common bacteria found in infected dog bites. It can pass through a dog bite or lick, leading to pain, redness, and swelling at the puncture area.
MRSA is a deadly bacterium that doesn’t show symptoms in infected animals and is resistant to multiple antibiotic strains. When bitten, the bacteria can lead to problems like cellulitis or sepsis to affect various organs.
Tetanus can lead to paralysis if someone who isn’t vaccinated suffers from a deep dog wound.
Large, strong dogs can cause bone fractures, especially if the victim is a child. The dog may pull and strain a joint, or its jaw may crush a bone.
While some complications like rabies, tetanus, and MRSA can prove fatal, other infections can kill tissues near the infection site. If this happens, amputation is the only way to prevent the disease from spreading to vital organs.
Turn to your personal injury lawyer in Georgia for help
Consult an attorney immediately if a dog attacked you or your loved one. Your attorney will assess and determine if you have a case and qualify for compensation. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation.