Recently, the Supreme Court of Georgia released an opinion in a Georgia dog bite case. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was walking her dog when another dog escaped its owner’s yard and attacked her. The woman suffered various injuries as a result of the attack, and she subsequently filed a lawsuit against the dog’s owners.
After her initial complaint, the woman amended her lawsuit by adding the dog owner’s landlord. She alleged that the landlord was liable under OGCA § 44-7-14 because he failed to keep the property in proper repair. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the dog was able to escape because the landlord failed to fix a broken gate latch. The landlord filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that although he breached his duty to repair the gate, the plaintiff did not show that the dog ever exhibited dangerous propensities or that the landlord knew of any dangerous tendencies. The trial court granted summary judgment in the landlord’s favor, and the plaintiff appealed. The appellate court reversed the ruling, and the defendant appealed.
Generally, under Georgia law, individuals who suffer injuries because of a dog bite or attack must establish that the dog was dangerous or had vicious propensities, that the owner had superior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous tendencies, and that the owner acted negligently. Georgia dog bite lawsuits can be challenging because proving viciousness is difficult, especially if the attack occurred in a Georgia county without a “leash law.” Furthermore, plaintiffs often face difficulties establishing that the dog owner had superior knowledge of the animal’s dangerous propensities. Plaintiffs may face even more barriers to recovery when they try to hold a negligent landlord liable for their injuries.