According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States, and more than 800,000 victims require medical attention. The National Library of Medicine reports that about 30 to 50 people die from dog bites each year, and the Wilderness & Environmental Medicine (WEM) Journal reported that the number of dog attacks appears to be increasing.
Many people consider themselves to be dog lovers, but there is no predicting how dogs will act. Anybody who has been bitten by a dog should quickly seek the help of an experienced Marietta attorney for assistance recovering financial compensation to cover all costs relating to the treatment of their injuries.
Causes of Dog Bites
The actual reason that dogs bite people may not be known, but one reason dog bites occur usually involves some kind of negligence by a dog owner. Georgia Code § 51-2-6 imposes liability on dog owners for injuries to livestock, but Georgia Code § 51-2-7 is the state law relating to injuries caused by dog bites.
Under this law, a person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous dog and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by their own actions can be liable to the injured person. In proving a vicious propensity, it will be sufficient to prove that a dog was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the dog was at the time of the occurrence not at heel or on a leash.
Dogs bite people for a lot of different reasons. It is possible that seemingly tame household pets that have never shown any signs of aggression could suddenly snap for no apparent reason. Some dogs will bite people because of environmental factors, like when dogs feel threatened. Dogs can also bite people when they seek to protect their owners or territory.
It is a dog owner’s responsibility to prevent foreseeable dog attacks by maintaining adequate control of their dog at all times. Some of the most common reasons dog attacks occur in Georgia include, but are not limited to:
- Dogs being provoked by their surroundings
- Dog owners failing to control dangerous animals
- Dog owners breaking leash laws
- People harming or provoking dogs
- People trespassing on private property
- Dogs being startled or scared by actions, fast movements, or noises
- Dogs having pain inflicted on them, intentionally or accidentally
- Dogs being sick or malnourished
- People disrupting dogs while they are eating or nursing
- Dogs defending territory or owners
- People trying to pet unfamiliar dogs
- Dogs running at large
You can do your part to prevent dog bite injuries by not petting or reaching out to stray or unfamiliar dogs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occurred in the nation during the most recent year for which published data was available, and approximately 799,700 persons needed medical care.
Of the 333,700 patients treated for dog bites in emergency departments that year, almost 6,000 (or 1.8 percent) were hospitalized. In 2001, an estimated 368,245 persons were treated in hospital emergency departments around the country for nonfatal dog bite-related injuries.
Types of Dog Bite Injuries
Dog attacks can quickly become catastrophic, possibly causing injuries that can impact victims for the remainder of their lives. Dogs can inflict such damage as:
- Torn flesh
- Facial injuries
- Eye injuries
- Broken bones
- Tissue loss
- Puncture wounds
- Internal injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Infections or diseases
- Torn muscles and ligaments
- Cuts and scrapes
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Nerve damage
- Wrongful death
Dog attacks may also cause several kinds of emotional injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Mayo Clinic notes that PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event that can lead to a wide variety of symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood, intrusive memories, avoidance, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
POSSIBLE DOG BITE DAMAGES
Dog owners can be liable for various damages to injured parties in dog bite cases. Compensatory damages typically involve economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are real costs people can prove, such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
Noneconomic damages will be much more subjective. Such damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Another less common kind of damages is punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages or vindictive damages. Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1 establishes that punitive damages can only be awarded in tort actions where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant’s actions demonstrated willful misconduct, fraud, wantonness, malice, oppression, or that entire want of care that raises the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences, and they are awarded not as compensation but strictly to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.
Punitive damages have a maximum of $250,000.00 in Georgia. A punitive damage award is exceptionally rare in a dog bite case.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Marietta Dog Bite Lawyers
Were you bitten by another person’s dog in Marietta or a surrounding area of Georgia? Do not wait to get in touch with Spaulding Injury Law as soon as possible so you can get the proper legal guidance about how to proceed with a claim in your case and recover all of the compensation that you need and deserve.
Our firm knows how confusing and challenging a dog bite case can be for most people, which is why we will work closely with you and help you navigate all the areas that you have to deal with in filing a claim. You can have us examine your case and discuss all of your legal options with you as soon as you call us or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Marietta Law Office
1000 Parkwood Circle Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia 30339
Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or would like to learn more about our attorneys.