My sister and I were outside with both my poms letting them relieve themselves, out of the blue my next door neighbors dogs come charging out of the door and attacked my dog, in the process both my sister and I was bitten. We both went to the emergency room ,and both of us had to get tetanus shots and prescript for antibiotics. My husband took our Pom to the vet and they basically stated that his spine was severed and had to be put down. Animal control took one dog for 10 days. Do I have a case?
It sounds like it was a horrible experience. I cannot answer on Georgia law, but Texas law requires pet owners to keep their animals under control. Local Local leash laws often apply too. The common law in most states imposes liability for vicious animals, so the type of dog and its prior behavior come in to play. In Texas you would have viable tort claims. If you have health insurance that paid your bills, you may owe part of your recovery back to the health insurer. I suggest that you talk to a contingent fee personal injury lawyer in your area.
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Does Newton County or Covington have a leash law for pets? Many counties now have leash laws which require that a pet be under control. If your neighbor's dog was not under control, then there may be liability by the neighbor. Has the neighbor's dog ever previously displayed aggression? Attacked your dog or other dogs? If so, there may be liability for your injuries. I am sorry for the loss of your pet, but Georgia treats pets as property, so your damages for the loss of your dog would be limited to the value of your dog plus his vet bill. Your own injuries and pain and suffering would be recoverable if liability is established.
While I agree with my colleagues that you may have a case, it is not possible to know if it will be successful without more facts, such as, were your dogs on a leash? You should speak with a local attorney regarding your options. The State Bar Of Georgia can give you a referral: www.gabar.org
If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.
Under Georgia law, there are two primary ways in which one might bring an injury claim as the result of a dog attack. The first involves a bite that occurs while on the owner's property or otherwise within the owner's control. This requires the owner to have specific prior knowledge of the dog's propensity to be aggressive and harm people. In that instance, the owner may be held liable if the dog then attacks someone else and the owner has not taken the appropriate steps to prevent that from happening, not warned people who may come in contact with the dog about its propensity to bite, or some combination of the two.
Second, if the owner is in violation of a local leash law, which almost every county and municipality in Georgia now have, the owner may be held liable for injuries caused by the dog's attack regardless of whether the dog had previously displayed a vicious propensity. It sounds like, based on the limited facts you have supplied, that the dog was not properly restrained by its owner when it attacked you and your sister. Therefore, the owner will likely be responsible for your injuries and damages, including the loss of your dog. As the previous poster suggested, the dog's value is unfortunately going to be limited to its fair market value at the time of the incident. However, if you required medical care and/or scarring you may have a substantial injury claim and should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Many homeowner's policies have strict notice requirements, meaning they must be made aware of the incident quickly in order to provide coverage under their homeowner's policy. For this reason, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney quickly. You may want to get a copy of the animal control officer's report as well. If you have more questions, feel free to call me at (770) 427-5498.
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