Articles Tagged with dog attack

There are more than 78 million dogs living in American households as pets. These dogs often are considered by their owners to be a part of the family and are treated accordingly. For the most part they receive loving attention and respond with loyalty to their owners, providing welcome companionship. The vast majority never show any significant aggression to anyone.

That is not always the case, however. Every year 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and about 800,000 of those bites require medical treatment. In 2019, there were 59 deaths as a result of dog bites. In 2019, there were two deaths in Georgia from dog bites, while in 2020, there were three dog bite fatalities in Georgia. None were in the Marietta area, although one was in Gwinnett County.

Fatalities are Rare, but Dog Bites are Costly

Personal injury claims against Georgia state officials are subject to a special set of constitutional and statutory rules. According to the Georgia Constitution, the General Assembly “may waive the state’s sovereign immunity” by law in cases in which an individual employee negligently injures someone. But “except as specifically provided” by such a waiver, the Constitution says, no public employee can be held liable for “the performance or nonperformance of their official functions.”

What does this mean, practically speaking? Basically, you can not sue an employee for exercising his or her own discretion in the performance of a job. You can, however, sue an employee who fails to carry out a legally mandated (or “ministerial”) task.

Wyno v. Lowndes County

When is a dog owner legally responsible for an attack that injures someone else? Georgia law states that anyone who “keeps a vicious or dangerous animal” is liable for “careless management” of said animal. The question then becomes, how do you know when a dog is vicious or dangerous?

Steagald v. Eason

In 2015, the Georgia Court of Appeals dismissed a personal injury lawsuit brought by the victim of a pitbull attack. The court said there was no evidence that the defendants, the pitbull’s owner, had specific knowledge their dog might commit an “unprovoked attack on a stranger coming into the yard.” The court brushed off evidence of the pitbull’s “snapping” and other prior aggressive behaviors as “not unusual” for a dog.

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