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How to Prove Fault in a Dog Bite Case



Dog bite incidents can result in serious injuries, emotional trauma, and significant medical expenses. Proving fault in a dog bite case is crucial to securing compensation for your injuries. This process involves gathering evidence, understanding relevant laws, and demonstrating the dog owner’s liability. Consulting with a dog bite injury lawyer in Atlanta can provide the expertise needed to navigate this complex legal landscape. This article will explore the steps and strategies for proving fault in a dog bite case, ensuring you have the best chance of a successful outcome.

Photo by Edgar Arroyo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-training-a-german-shepherd-dog-15322829/

Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Atlanta

Georgia’s Dog Bite Statute

In Georgia, dog bite cases are primarily governed by the state’s dog bite statute, which is outlined in O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7. According to this law, a dog owner can be held liable if:

  • The dog was considered dangerous or vicious.
  • The owner carelessly managed the dog or allowed it to roam free.
  • The victim did not provoke the dog and was lawfully on the property where the bite occurred.

Strict Liability vs. Negligence

Georgia follows a “modified” one-bite rule, which means that dog owners can be held strictly liable if they knew or should have known that their dog had a propensity for aggression. In other cases, the victim must prove that the owner was negligent in controlling the dog.

Local Ordinances

Local ordinances in Atlanta may also impact a dog bite case. These laws can include leash requirements, vaccination mandates, and regulations regarding the confinement of dangerous dogs. Violations of these ordinances can be used as evidence of negligence.

Steps to Prove Fault in a Dog Bite Case

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

The first step after a dog bite is to seek immediate medical attention. Not only is this crucial for your health, but medical records will also serve as important evidence in your case. Ensure that all injuries are documented, including any follow-up treatments and potential complications.

2. Report the Incident

Report the dog bite to local animal control or law enforcement authorities. Filing an official report creates a record of the incident, which can be used as evidence. It also ensures that the dog’s behavior is documented, which may be relevant if the dog has a history of aggression.

3. Gather Evidence at the Scene

Collecting evidence at the scene is vital for building a strong case. This includes:

  • Photographs and Videos: Take clear photographs and videos of the injuries, the location where the bite occurred, and the dog if possible.
  • Witness Statements: Gather contact information and statements from any witnesses who saw the incident. Their testimonies can corroborate your version of events.
  • Dog Owner Information: Obtain the name, address, and contact information of the dog owner. Also, note any relevant details about the dog’s behavior and any prior incidents.

4. Document Your Injuries and Expenses

Keep detailed records of your injuries, medical treatments, and related expenses. This includes:

  • Medical Records: Copies of all medical reports, bills, and prescriptions.
  • Injury Journal: A personal journal documenting your pain levels, recovery progress, and any limitations caused by the injuries.
  • Financial Impact: Records of any lost wages, travel expenses for medical appointments, and other financial impacts resulting from the bite.

5. Consult with a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in Atlanta

An experienced dog bite injury lawyer in Atlanta can provide valuable guidance and representation. They will:

  • Evaluate Your Case: Assess the details of the incident and determine the best legal strategy.
  • Gather Additional Evidence: Help collect further evidence, such as obtaining surveillance footage or expert testimonies.
  • Negotiate with Insurance Companies: Handle communications and negotiations with the dog owner’s insurance company to seek fair compensation.
  • Represent You in Court: If necessary, represent you in court and present a compelling case to the judge or jury.

6. Prove the Dog’s Dangerous Propensity

To establish liability, you may need to prove that the dog had a dangerous propensity. This can be demonstrated through:

  • Prior Incidents: Evidence of previous bites or aggressive behavior by the dog.
  • Witness Testimony: Statements from neighbors, delivery personnel, or others who have observed the dog’s behavior.
  • Animal Control Records: Reports from animal control regarding prior complaints or incidents involving the dog.

7. Demonstrate Owner Negligence

Proving owner negligence involves showing that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care in controlling the dog. This can include:

  • Leash Laws and Confinement: Evidence that the owner violated local leash laws or failed to properly confine the dog.
  • Lack of Warning: Proof that the owner did not warn others about the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
  • Inadequate Training or Supervision: Demonstrating that the dog was not properly trained or supervised.

Legal Theories for Dog Bite Cases

Strict Liability

Under strict liability, the dog owner can be held liable without needing to prove negligence, provided it can be shown that the dog had a known propensity for aggression and the owner was aware of it.


To prove negligence, you must show that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing the dog from causing harm. This includes failing to follow leash laws, not confining the dog, or ignoring signs of aggressive behavior.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se applies when the dog owner violates a statute or ordinance designed to protect public safety, such as leash laws or vaccination requirements. If the violation leads to a dog bite, the owner can be presumed negligent.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What should I do immediately after a dog bite?

Seek immediate medical attention, report the incident to local authorities, gather evidence at the scene, and consult with a dog bite injury lawyer in Atlanta.

2. How can I prove the dog owner’s liability?

Proving liability involves demonstrating the dog’s dangerous propensity and the owner’s negligence. This can be done through evidence of prior incidents, witness testimonies, and showing violations of local ordinances.

3. What types of compensation can I receive in a dog bite case?

Compensation can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.

4. How can a dog bite injury lawyer help me?

A lawyer can evaluate your case, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court to ensure you receive fair compensation.

5. What is the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim in Georgia?

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including dog bites, is generally two years from the date of the incident. It’s important to consult with a lawyer promptly to ensure your claim is filed within this timeframe.


Proving fault in a dog bite case requires a thorough understanding of the relevant laws, diligent evidence gathering, and effective legal representation. By following the steps outlined in this article and consulting with a dog bite injury lawyer in Atlanta, you can build a strong case and seek the compensation you deserve. Whether through demonstrating the dog’s dangerous propensity or proving owner negligence, the right legal strategy can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.