Dog bites can cause serious injuries, including permanent scarring, disfigurement, psychological trauma and sometimes death. Unless there is evidence that a dog was not at heel or on a leash, as required by local ordinance at the time of the incident, a plaintiff in a dog-bite case must show that the owner had knowledge that the dog had the propensity to commit the act that caused the injury. There exists a saying among Georgia lawyers; every dog is entitled to one bite. The dog having had its one bite, which is known to its owner, the owner thereafter is liable to the person suffering injuries by reason of being bitten by the dog if the dog is allowed to go at liberty. The rule does not literally require a first bite; instead, the true test of liability is the owner’s superior knowledge of the dog’s temperament.
An important exception to the first bite rule comes into consideration when the animal was required to be at heel or on a leash by an ordinance of a city, county, or consolidated government, and the animal was not at heel or on a leash at the time of the occurrence. In such cases, if an animal is running at large in violation of a local ordinance when it bites someone, the owner’s knowledge of its propensity to bite is immaterial. Therefore, even in first-bite cases, an owner may be held liable even without proof that the owner had knowledge of the animal’s vicious propensity if the animal was not at heel or on a leash as required by ordinance. This is an important exception because many Georgia counties and cities currently have such ordinances.
Georgia law imposes that all dog-related injury claims must be filed within two years of said injury occurring. This means you have two years to file a lawsuit against the person who owned the dog that attacked you. If you do not file your case within the two-year period, your case will most likely be disregarded in a court of law.
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