Who Is Responsible For Pet Bites and Attacks?
Pets, like people, each have their own unique personalities. However, they all share one common behavioral trait – they are loyal to their owners. Loyalty earns pets love, affection, and an unending food supply.
If the pet senses that its owner is threatened, the pet will often rise to the owner’s defense. For most pets, that just means that they will bark and, perhaps, growl at perceived threats. Other pets that are bred to attack, however, can cause serious injuries even when the perceived threat (a toddler swinging a tree limb, for instance) does not actually pose any real danger to the owner.
If you or someone you love was seriously injured by a pet bite or attack, we urge you to contact an Atlanta dog bite lawyer. Although pet bites aren’t always caused by dogs, a skilled dog bite attorney is competent to handle any pet bite or attack case. The attorneys at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers will help you identify all parties that are responsible for your injuries, and all sources of insurance that can compensate you, so that you can recover the compensation that you deserve for your losses.
Pet Owners Are Usually Responsible For Pet Bites and Attacks
In most cases, pet owners are the ones that are responsible for the harms caused by their pets. For instance, if a dog harmed someone after escaping from a yard through a hole in the fence that should have been observable by the owner, the pet owner should be liable if they did not take reasonable steps to patch the hole in the fence.
The pet owner is also responsible when their pet has bitten someone in the past and the owner doesn’t take reasonable measures to prevent the pet from biting someone else, for instance, by crating the dog when visitors are at the home.
Some pet owners walk their large dogs off leash, which is a recipe for disaster if the dog is not well-trained. If the dog is in a public area where it should be on a leash and the dog bites someone, the pet owner is responsible for those harms.
Pet Caretakes Can Also Be Responsible for Pet Bites and Attacks
Many of us rely upon dog walkers to take care of our dogs while we’re at work. Responsible dog walkers understand that dogs should be on a leash whenever they exit the home in an area that isn’t fenced. If the dog walker lets the dog roam freely in an area where the dog should be leashed, the dog walker may be responsible for the harms instead of the dog owner.
In a case that our lawyers successfully litigated a few years ago, the owner of a vicious Rottweiler asked his friend to take the Rottweiler for a walk while the owner was at work. The friend saw a group of small dogs and their owners hanging out in a cul-de-sac in the neighborhood and decided to let the Rottweiler out the front door off leash. The Rottweiler aggressively bounded towards our client’s chihuahua, which was on a leash. Our client feared that the Rottweiler was going to kill her chihuahua, so she picked up the chihuahua and cradled it in her arms. The Rottweiler jumped up and tore a huge piece of flesh out of our client’s arm. That case went to trial and the jury decided that the friend, not the dog owner, was responsible for injuring our client because a reasonable dog caretaker would not have allowed the Rottweiler to run in the neighborhood off leash – even though the owner harbored a dangerous animal in his home.
How Do I Obtain Compensation For a Pet Bite Or Attack?
Most pet bite and attack cases are relatively easy to prove because the dog is off leash in an area that the dog should be on a leash, and the victim’s injuries are serious. The challenge in pet bite and attack cases typically lies in recovering compensation from the pet owner or caretaker.
Many people that rent incredibly do not carry renter’s insurance. Additionally, many landlords do not require their renters to carry insurance. Those that do carry renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance usually have a provision in their insurance policy that states that the insurance company won’t cover harms caused by certain breeds of dogs that are known to be violent, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. Unfortunately, most dog bite attacks are caused by those breeds.
Therefore, more often than not, there isn’t insurance money to cover a victim’s injuries and the victim is left to recover what they can from the owner’s assets. Most people in Georgia do not have significant assets. Those that do typically have put a lot of their money in retirement accounts that can’t be seized by anyone other than the IRS. As a result, it can be very difficult to obtain sufficient compensation from the pet owner or caretaker.
Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you’ve been harmed by a pet bite or attack, the best way to determine whether the dog owner or caretaker carries insurance that can cover your injuries is to sue the owner or caretaker. Georgia’s civil litigation discovery rules require the owner or caretaker to produce that insurance information to you. Unfortunately, if you haven’t filed a lawsuit, the owner or caretaker isn’t under any obligation to produce that information to you.
The Atlanta injury attorneys at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers have litigated pet bite and attack cases for decades. Attorney Graham Scofield understands how to efficiently litigate a lawsuit so that you know sooner, rather than later, whether the pet owner or caretaker has insurance that can cover your injuries. If there isn’t insurance money available, our legal team will help you determine whether the owner or caretaker has any assets that can provide you compensation for your losses. If so, we will take that case to trial if the dog owner or caretaker won’t negotiate with us in good faith.