Last month, a six-year-old boy in Atlanta was mauled to death by two pit bulls on the way to a bus stop. The incident has led to the proposal of new dog bite reporting rules in the Georgia House. State Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) filed the bill, known as Logan's Law, and would require annual, breed-specific statistics on dog bite injuries when any dog on a proposed list is sold. It would also require reporting of statistics for medical costs related to dog bites, as well as litigation awards from lawsuits related to dog bites.
The dogs in question:
- American Pit Bull Terriers
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- American Bullies
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Chow Chows
- Great Danes
Dog Bite Injury Liability
There are two statutes in Georgia law regarding dog bites. The first is Georgia Code Title 51, Chapter 2, Section 6, which states that owners of animals are liable for costs incurred due to attacks on livestock while not on the owner's premises. The second is GA Section 51-2-7, which states that owners who keep vicious or dangerous animals are liable for damages related to injury if that person is careless in management of the animal or lets it free.
Proving that an animal is vicious or dangerous can be done in a variety of ways. Attorneys can look to the animal's history to see if it had attacked a person before or behaved aggressively. Another way is to show that the animal is required to be leashed and was not at the time of the attack.
Then it must be proven that the owner was careless in management or let the animal roam freely. An owner with an unfenced yard who lets the dogs roam, for example, could be found negligent and thus be responsible for damages.
Note that a person injured by a dog cannot recover damages if it can be proven that the person provoked the animal.