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Understanding Georgia’s dog bite laws

Most dogs are loving companions with little propensity for aggression. Yet, even the sweetest canines may bite when provoked. And you never can guess when a dog may be dangerous or vicious. After sustaining a dog bite, knowing Georgia’s laws can help you protect yourself.

How Georgia classifies dangerous dogs

Under Georgia law, not all dogs that bite qualify as dangerous. If the bite was a nip or caused you only a minor scratch, the dog’s behavior will not merit this designation. But the dog may be dangerous if it punctured your skin or attacked you in an aggressive manner. If it killed your pet, it also meets this threshold. And the dog may qualify as vicious – rather than dangerous – if it injured you in a manner that required stitches, broke your bones or could have killed you.

How Georgia penalizes dog bites

In assigning liability for dog bites, Georgia penalizes owners who knew their dogs were dangerous or vicious yet were negligent in controlling them. The state also penalizes owners who disobey leash ordinances, provided the dog that bit you was running free. If the dog was vicious and had to legally remain on a leash or at heel, its owner will face consequences as well.

If the dog’s owner did not know it was dangerous, they may not shoulder liability for the incident. This may also happen in other specific cases, such as:

  • You provoked the dog
  • You abused the dog
  • You trespassed on the owner’s property
  • You sustained the dog bite while committing a crime against its owner

Absent these exceptions, Georgia’s statute of limitations gives you two years to file a personal injury claim after sustaining a dog bite. Often, the homeowner’s insurance of the dog’s owner will cover the related expenses. Consulting a personal injury attorney can help you weigh your options moving forward.