OFF TOPIC: Responsibility for Dog Who Bites?

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by asbrand, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. asbrand

    asbrand Active Member

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    Hoping some of you more lawyer-esque types around here will have some ideas.

    Back in June, my family and I were at Bells Ferry Park attending our local SCA (http://www.sca.org) group's fighter practice (SCA is an international medieval re-enactment group. Fighter practice is where we put on our armour and practice medieval style fighting.)

    Anyhue...one of the couples who are in our group had just gotten a dog (unsure of type, kinda long haired, about the size of a cocker spaniel) from the Animal Shelter a couple of weeks before, and brought it to practice. My wife was sitting in her lawn chair watching our 5 year old (about 4' in front of her) when this couple arrived and sat down beside her to start chatting. Dog *was* on a leash, and it sat beside Dasha (the 5 year old). Owner let her pet the dog, and being a typical 5 year old who loves animals, she did so.

    After several minutes, in which the child did nothing wrong other than to carefully pet the dog, something in it snapped and viciously attacked her, lunging for her throat and biting her on the neck. The bite was pretty deep, and she also got a large, deep scratch from the dog's nails.

    We rushed her to the hospital to have her checked out. Deepest tooth mark was about 3/4 of an inch from the jugular, and had it hit it, it was deep enough to puncture. Hospital cleaned the wounds, gave her a tetanus shot, bandaged, and sent us on our way.

    Now, a month and a half later, the hospital and doctor who saw her finally got around to sending us the bill (after insurance paid their part). Both come to about $350.

    And the kicker? The owners of the dog are trying to say they are no responsible, due to "51-2-7" in Georgia law...which can be seen here:

    http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2003 ... 1-2-7.html

    Which, to my layman's eyes, basically says if the dog is on a leash, it is free to attack anybody it wants, and the owners are not responsible... What kind of bullshit law is that?

    Thanks ahead of time...
     
  2. USMC - Retired

    USMC - Retired New Member

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    IF that is indeed true, my stepson has a pitbull he could bring leashed to your next SCA event and you can direct him who he should sit next to...
     

  3. gsusnake

    gsusnake Token Liberal Hippie

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    The ER should have filled out animal bite/attack paperwork of some kind. Contact the medical records department at the hospital and ask for a copy of the paperwork. They'll try to charge you, but refuse to pay it unless they absolutely insist.

    If I remember correctly the police must be notified of an animal attack but do not have to do anything with the report (any lawyers or LEOs please correct me on this, as I'm not sure) so they may have a copy of the report as well.
     
  4. GunNut

    GunNut New Member

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    I wonder if legally, by allowing her to pet the dog if you somehow accepted the risk of something bad happening.
     
  5. Thorsen

    Thorsen New Member

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    Georgia's dog laws are pretty much pro-dog owner in the case of a dog bite. You will find a good summary of the laws here.

    The best thing I could advise you to do is to contact animal control for the county in which they live and ask if their dog has been classified as "dangerous", meaning he has bitten someone in the past. If so, then he has had his so-called one free bite and they are liable for any future actions. If not, then you need to get the police to file a report with animal control if they hadn't done so already. This will cause animal control to document the bite on your child and classify the dog as dangerous so that if he bites anyone in the future they are held liable in that case.

    I would still get a lawyer if I were in your situation. While they might not be criminally liable, you could prevail in a civil case against them as some courts could rule in your favor based on her age and the fact that she has been disfigured.
     
  6. pro2am

    pro2am New Member

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    Check your local municipality and/or county regulations as well. I believe Cherokee county passed a law about animals that attack someone...leashed or not.

    Regardless, a decent human being would willingly pay for something that their animal did.

    There is always small claims court too.
     
  7. Wiley

    Wiley New Member

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    Small Claims Court. 51-2-7 might shield the owners from criminal action but not civil damages.

    $350 damages
    $60+/- court costs
    $pain and suffering?

    Explain the costs to the owners they might just pay the $350 they owe you.
     
  8. Claire

    Claire New Member

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    I don't have any answers/ suggestions

    just wanted to say that sucks for you & Dasha
    how is Dasha now?

    good luck!
     
  9. tj2000

    tj2000 New Member

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    Or you.....

    You could have your wife put a leash on you and she could walk you to your neighbors house and you could beat the sh%@ out of them and say, since you where on a leash and under control....... It could happen.

    :rotfl2:

    Sorry for the sarcasim, I am glad your daughter is alright.
    And another thing, Asbrand I know your a big guy and I think seeing you in your battle gear would remind me of that big fellow in Brave Heart WOW..........
    8)
     
  10. ptsmith24

    ptsmith24 New Member

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    Re: Or you.....

    +1 (from the website picture)
     
  11. asbrand

    asbrand Active Member

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    Hehehehehe...

    Dasha is mostly fine now. Got some scars, and the nightmares seemed to have stopped.

    Thanks for asking. :)

    As for me in my gear...

    Here's a short video of me fighting another guy several months ago. I'm the bigger one on the right fighting with two weapons. He's using a sword and shield.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGbbzsfwvQE

    Our weapons are made from rattan, a type of solid bamboo. Yes, it hurts...this stuff can dent steel. 8)
     
  12. merlock

    merlock New Member

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    I worked with a fellow who is an SCA member. He'd come to work on Monday after a meet and be pretty banged up. :shattered: But he always said he had a ball.
     
  13. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    Should have used your medieval sword to end the dog's life.

    Nope, I'm not joking.
     
  14. merlock

    merlock New Member

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    +1
     
  15. ptsmith24

    ptsmith24 New Member

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    +2
     
  16. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Negligence or Freak Accident?

    Were this dog's owners "negligent" to take the dog to a public park? To allow a 5-year old child to sit next to and pet the animal? That's the question. It is not actually the law in Georgia that every dog gets one free bite on a human, and until a human is bitten the dog's owners do not have, and never can have, any notice or warning about the dog's temperament. Sometimes there can be liability with the first bite.

    But what if there WAS NO EVIDENCE that even an alert and responsible dog owner would have picked up on to indicate some propensity to suddenly bite people? What if this dog, for as long as the new owners knew it since they got it from the pound, had a sweet disposition, and there was no clue that the dog might bite a kid for petting her?

    This sounds like a case where the potential for liability would turn as much on the facts of the case (including info about things that happened weeks and months before the bite itself) as on the statutes and caselaw.