While some states provide that in certain circumstances, landlords may be liable for a tenant's dog attack, this isn’t the case in Georgia. Generally, it’s only the dog owner that can be legally responsible for dog bite damages in the state. Landlord liability for a dog bite typically doesn't apply in the state.
Landlord Liability for Dog Bite by Tenant's Dog
In some states, the courts will allow a dog bite victim to pursue compensation for damages after a tenant’s dog attack from the landlord if the landlord knew the dog was dangerous and had the power to have the dog removed. However, to date, Georgia courts have not subscribed to this standpoint.
Landlord Liability for Dog Bite in Georgia
In Georgia, a landlord generally cannot be liable for the actions of the tenants, as per OCGA § 44-7-14, which reads: “Having fully departed with possession and the right of possession, the landlord is not responsible to third persons for damages resulting from the negligence or illegal use of the premises by the tenant; provided, however, the landlord is responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair.”
This also means that landlord liability for a dog bite by the tenant's dog doesn't apply. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Georgia in 2012 in Younger v. Dunagan. The relatively recent case of Younger v. Dunagan effectively illustrates Georgia courts’ opinion on landlord liability for tenants’ dogs.
Postal worker James Younger was injured while trying to escape a dog where he was delivering mail in the capacity of his profession. He sued both the tenant, Norma Neubold, and the landlord, Gary Dunagan.
In the case against Dunagan, the court ruled in favor of the landlord. Younger appealed. In the appeal, the courts affirmed the original ruling, citing OCGA § 44-7-14 as cause for their decision.
In the decision, Judge McFadden stated, “A landlord's liability to a third person who is injured on property which was relinquished by rental or under a lease is determined by OCGA § 44-7-14.”
Potentiality for Landlord Liability for a Dog Bite
Given the phrase in the above statute, “the landlord is responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair,” it’s possible to file a claim against the landlord if the landlord’s negligence in maintaining or repairing the property contributed to the attack.
For instance, if a tenant’s dog escaped and bit someone as the result of a shoddy fence that the landlord promised to repair, it’s possible that the claim can be filed against the landlord. These types of special situations should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with a dog bite attorney in Georgia.
Consult a Lawyer to Determine Liability for Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite claims can be challenging to substantiate and difficult to win, particularly without a legal representative. If you or a loved one was injured in a dog bite, discuss your case with an attorney in your area before taking any legal action.
An attorney will be able to review the circumstances around the incident and identify the Georgia dog bite laws that apply. Your attorney can also help you determine liability and pursue the compensation for which you are eligible.
For a Dog Bite Attorney in Atlanta, Call Jason R. Schultz
If you need legal counsel in Atlanta or the surrounding areas, call dog bite attorney Jason Schultz. Attorney Schultz is dedicated to helping dog bite victims recover their damages. Contact us today at 404-474-0804 for a free initial consultation.