Why Is it Important to Hire an Atlanta Dog Bite Injury Lawyer?
The average person does not have any experience navigating a dog bite injury lawsuit. Insurance companies know this and use it to their advantage. They use bad-faith insurance tactics to try to devalue clients’ injuries and save money on payouts.
Hiring a dog bite attorney gives you the power to fight back and negotiate for maximum financial compensation. This is especially important if you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a dog attack, such as lacerations or puncture wounds. Your Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you need to move forward with financial stability and peace of mind.
Compensation for an Atlanta Dog Bite Claim
If found liable for your dog bite injury, the pet owner may have to pay for many of your related losses. Homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover injuries and property damage caused by pets, as pets are property in the eyes of the law. The amount that you are eligible to receive will depend on the limits of the policy and the extent of your losses. You may receive compensation for the following, and more:
- Your past and future medical costs. These can include hospital bills, emergency fees, stitches, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Out-of-pocket expenses. This may include travel costs, legal fees, and any other money that you spent out of your own pocket to recover from the dog attack.
- Lost wages from missed work. Serious attacks often require dog bite victims to take time off of work to recover. You could collect your lost wages and other benefits lost, such as sick days.
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement. If the dog bite injury left you with permanent marks or physical disfigurement, you can include this on your claim to compensation.
- Physical pain and emotional distress. The law in Georgia allows you to seek financial compensation for noneconomic damages, including physical pain, distress, mental anguish, psychological trauma and a new phobia of dogs.
- Death benefits. In the event of a fatal dog attack, surviving loved ones may be eligible for compensation for funeral and burial costs, loss of consortium, and other death benefits.
The value of your dog bite injury claim depends on your specific case. In general, the more severe your injuries are from a dog attack, the more your claim is worth. Speak to an Atlanta dog attack lawyer before accepting a settlement from the pet owner’s insurance company. An attorney will be more honest about the value of your personal injury claim than an insurance claims adjuster.
Deadline for Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Atlanta
If you have been bitten by a dog in Atlanta, Georgia, do not hesitate to speak to an experienced dog bite lawyer about your legal options. There is a law called the statute of limitations in Georgia that applies to all personal injury cases. This law imposes a deadline on the ability to bring a cause of action. In Georgia, you have no more than two years from the date of the attack to file a related injury claim, per Georgia Code Section 9-3-33.
If a loved one passes away in a fatal dog attack, you have two years from the date of his or her death to file a wrongful death lawsuit, instead of the date of the attack (if they differ). If you fail to meet your filing deadline, the courts will most likely refuse to hear your case – meaning you will be unable to recover compensation, even if the pet owner is liable. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, it is critical to contact an attorney without delay after a dog bite injury.
How Do I Report My Dog Bite in Georgia?
If you get bitten by a dog in Georgia, try to remain calm. Get to a safe place, away from the vicious dog. Do not leave the scene of the incident, however, until you have collected certain information. Speak to the owner of the pet; get his or her name, phone number and insurance information. Ask about the dog, as well, such as if it is up to date on all of its vaccinations and shots. Take photographs of the dog, the location of the attack and your injuries. Go to a hospital immediately for professional medical treatment.
When you are ready, report your dog bite injury to the authorities. In Atlanta, Georgia, you should report a dog bite to Fulton County Animal Services, either online or by calling (404) 613-0358. If it is an emergency, call 911. Reporting the attack to the local animal control center is important for safety reasons. Reports are how the city keeps track of dangerous dogs in the community. If the same dog attacks someone else in the future, for instance, your report can help the victim hold the pet owner accountable. Reporting the injury can also put the dog in quarantine to check for rabies.
Georgia’s Dog Bite Laws
As the victim of a dog bite injury in Georgia, a dog owner may be financially responsible (liable) for your injuries and medical expenses. Georgia is not a strict liability dog bite state, meaning dog owners are not automatically responsible for dog attacks. However, a pet owner may still have to pay for your injuries if three things are true:
- The dog had a known propensity for violence. The dog had previously bitten someone before or is considered a vicious or dangerous animal.
- The pet owner carelessly managed the dog, allowed the dog to run at large or was guilty of another careless act that was a substantial factor in causing the attack.
- You did not do anything to provoke the dog or incite an attack. You must not have instigated the attack by harassing the dog or trespassing on private property, for example.
To recover financial compensation from a pet owner for a dog bite injury in Georgia, you or your Atlanta dog bite lawyer must have enough evidence to prove these elements as more likely to be true than not true. If your lawyer succeeds, the pet owner will be liable for your injuries and related losses.
Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries
When a dog bites, its teeth and jaws can cause significant injuries. Many dogs are strong enough to break bones when they bite, as well as severely lacerate the skin and soft tissues. Children and the elderly are the most prone to serious and catastrophic injuries in dog attacks in Atlanta.
Dog bite injuries can include:
- Cuts and scrapes
- Deep lacerations
- Puncture wounds
- Muscle and tendon damage
- Bone fractures
- Crush injuries
- Nerve damage
- Injuries to the face and neck
- Eye injuries
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Infections or diseases
- Wrongful death
In addition to physical injuries, dog attacks often inflict mental and emotional injuries on survivors. Many victims experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, such as nightmares and flashbacks. The injuries and losses suffered due to a dog bite can reduce a victim’s overall quality of life.
Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Injury Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog in Atlanta, seek medical attention. Then, discuss your legal options with a dog bite attorney from BMW Law Group. We have the experience and knowledge you need for a strong claim to damages. Our law firm operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay for our services unless we win financial compensation on your behalf.
Learn more during a free consultation with our Atlanta dog bite injury lawyers. Request yours today.