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Georgia Supreme Court Discusses Dog Bite Liability in Recent Case

Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion in a Georgia dog bite case requiring the court to discuss and clarify the law when it comes to an owner’s liability for injuries caused by his dog. Under the specific facts presented in the appeal, the court concluded that the plaintiffs did present sufficient evidence that the defendants’ dog did have a dangerous propensity of which the defendants were aware. As a result, the court held that summary judgment in favor of the defendants was not proper.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs and the defendants were neighbors. The defendants’ adult son moved back into their home and brought his dog, Rocks, with him. Rocks was at the defendants’ home for about two weeks when the defendants noticed he was acting aggressively. On one occasion, Rocks snapped at the defendant wife as she tried to feed him. On another occasion, Rocks growled at the plaintiff’s husband when he was visiting the defendants.

The following week, the plaintiff’s wife came over to visit the defendants. Rocks was in the backyard and not in his kennel, although he was on a leash. When the plaintiff wife entered the yard, Rocks charged at her, lunged, and latched onto her leg, causing serious injuries.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants. The defendants’ defense was that they did not have knowledge that Rocks was a dangerous dog and that this was the first time he had actually attacked anyone. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiffs appealed to the intermediate appellate court, which affirmed that ruling. The plaintiffs again appealed, this time to the state supreme court.

The court took the opportunity to discuss the state of dog bite law, noting that in order for a defendant to be liable for a dog’s attack, the defendant must have knowledge that the dog was dangerous. However, the law does not require that the dog actually bite someone, only that the dog act aggressively to the point that the defendant is put on notice that the dog may attack someone in the future.

Here, the court held, the plaintiffs’ evidence was sufficient to allow a jury to find that the defendants may have known or should have known about Rocks’ dangerous propensity to attack unprovoked. The court looked at the two prior instances of aggressive conduct in the short period of time Rocks was present at the defendants’ home, indicating that this was sufficient evidence of aggression.

Have You Been Injured in a Dog Attack?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a Georgia dog bite, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at the McAleer Law Firm have extensive experience representing victims of dog bites in cases to help them pursue compensation for their injuries. We know that these cases are often handled on delicate ground, in that many times victims of a dog bite know the dog’s owners, and we cater our representation according to each client’s needs. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 404-622-5337 to schedule your free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Granny, Does Your Dog Bite?, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, April 12, 2017.

Court Excludes Key Witness at Trial Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Identify Witness Before Trial, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 27, 2017.