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What to do if you get bitten by a dog

No matter how sweet a dog is, there is always a possibility it could bite someone. Many bites are superficial and not serious. You may not even follow up if you are bitten, but there might be other circumstances in which you want to pursue legal action to get reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages and permanent injury.

If you are bitten by a dog, you should take these precautions:

  • Seek medical attention, even for a small or minor bite. Animal bites transfer germs that can cause infection, especially in an open wound. A medical professional documents your wound should you need to pursue reimbursement. Take pictures of the bite at the time and as it heals for evidence.
  • Document everything you can. Take pictures of the dog at the time of the bite, if possible, and get the names and contact information of witnesses. Note whether the dog was on a leash and what the dog was doing at the time of the attack.
  • Do not try to stop, catch or otherwise control an unknown dog. Get as much information as you can and let the authorities try to capture the dog. You will need to get medical attention immediately.
  • If the animal's owner is present, get a name and contact number to get proof of the rabies vaccination. Do not take the word of the dog's owner.
  • Contact animal control to let the agency follow up with the owner and to protect against future bites and related mishaps.

Georgia laws about dog bites are complex

In Georgia, dogs are presumed to be harmless. It falls on the dog bite victim to show the dog's owner knew the dog was not harmless. To determine liability, the plaintiff must show the dog's nature was dangerous and that the owner knew it. Both factors must be shown to be true to win a case. Dangerous dogs fall under different statutes in the Georgia code. Owners are expected to take special precautions when the dog has attacked previously.

The legal issues surrounding dog bite cases are complex. The defense may try to show a dog bite victim assumed a risk when interacting with a dog, and the court might deny recovery in a case where the dog bite victim approached the dog and was bitten. It is a good idea to discuss your case with an experienced attorney to understand your situation and how to effectively prove you deserve recovery from the dog's owner.

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