WTVM Legal Break – Dog Bites

Injury & Accident Attorney Serving Nearby Areas of Columbus & Fort Benning, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama

Gary Bruce discusses the law relating to liability for dogs and how to be compensated if you are bitten by a dog in Georgia and Alabama. The old rule said that there was no penalty for a dog’s first bite, but that has now changed. The law states that recovery for injury due to a dog bite is allowed if the owner of the dog knew or had reason to know that the dog had vicious tendencies, or was not secured as required by the law. In fact, many cities, including Columbus, have leash laws and failure to adhere to these laws creates strict liability for damages caused by a dog.

If you have been the victim of a dog bite or have questions about your legal options after an attack, please call our office for a free consultation or to set up a meeting at your convenience.


Maureen: Hello there and welcome to legal break I’m Maureen Akers and with us today, as always, Gary Bruce thanks for joining us again Gary.

Gary: Great to be here thank you, Maureen.

Maureen: Well dog bites – no one wants to think about it but every once in while it may happen to you, unfortunately. Are there any laws pertaining to that? I mean what happens if someone else’s dog bites you?

Gary: Well there are laws pertaining to it. Surprise, surprise! But know that the old law used to be this – when am I responsible for what my dog does? Like if my dog bites you, am I responsible? In the old days, it could be fairly well summed up to say every dog gets one free bite. Meaning we’ve got to be on notice that it’s a problem because we like dogs. We like having dogs in our lives and its part of our culture, so we say until we’re on notice that this is a problem, we’re not going to make it a liability situation.

But what we’ve recognized is certain dogs are vicious. It may not bite somebody but we know we got to keep them chained up or beware of the dog if they show signs of a dangerous propensity. If they do, then that one bite rule is kind of out the window. So it all comes down to, like any case, if I know or should know there’s a problem, and I expose you to it, then I’m going to have liability for it. It’s really that simple in the end. So the old law has eroded somewhat, the one free bite has eroded, and now we have liability if we knew or should have known this dog was dangerous to others. Or we negligently supervised the dog and its interaction with other people or children. Or, we violate leash laws, and that’s an absolute strict liability situation there.

Maureen: Well then who does get compensated if you’re a victim of a dog bite? Who compensates me, saying I’m the victim?

Gary: Well the dog is going to be a little hard for us to pay, so now we look to the owner because it’s an owner control issue. As for the leash law deal, that’s an owner violation that led to this problem. But for being off the leash it wouldn’t have been. And if we know the dog has a problem we put that on the owner. So if you see a dangerous dog, report it. That way there’s no question about “yes this was a dangerous dog and and there should be some owner responsibility”.

Maureen: Right, and if you’re the dog owner, you need to be responsible and know what your dog is like and the characteristics of it.

Gary: Absolutely, and you know we all think our dogs fine around our family, but we’ve got to be careful when around others.

Maureen: Yeah leash law is a good thing too. So if you need more information, you can contact Gary’s Office and they can help you there. Thanks so much for joining us on legal break today Gary and we look forward to seeing you on the very next one.