Wrongful death stems from the reckless, intentional or careless actions of someone else. In the case of a fatal dog attack, liability is most times with the dog’s owner. Both wrongful death and dog bite laws may impact a wrongful death claim, so read on for more information if you’re planning to file such a claim.
Proving Negligence Based on Georgia Dog Bite Laws
While no amount of money can make up for the loss of life, it's so important to hold dog owners accountable for the dog’s actions to give the family the financial means to start the healing process. There are two ways that Georgia dog bite law may find the owner liable.
One way is by establishing two elements. The first is that the owner violated a local leash law or the dog wasn't at heel. And the second is that the dog wasn't managed properly or the owner allowed it to go at liberty.
A second way of showing negligence is by establishing three elements. First, the dog was dangerous (based on dangerous dog law). Second, the owner knew of the dog's viciousness. And third, the dog wasn't managed properly or the owner allowed it to go at liberty.
Impact of Georgia's Dangerous Dog Law in a Fatal Dog Attack Case
There are different ways to prove a dog is dangerous. For instance, the dog had inflicted severe injury on someone without provocation, whether on public or private property. Even if it doesn't cause serious harm, a dog may receive the designation of potentially dangerous when it bites without provocation.
Another way to prove a dog was dangerous – and that the owner knew of it – is if the dog has received a classification of dangerous and the owner receives notification.
Important Factors to Know When Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Finding an owner liable for a fatal dog bite based on dog bite laws is just one factor. It's also important to understand wrongful death laws and how they may apply to a fatal dog bite claim.
An example is the time limitations for filing. Georgia gives two years from the date of death to pursue a wrongful death case. If the personal representative or eligible party waits too long, they cannot recover compensation.
Parties entitled to recover compensation from the claim include:
- a spouse;
- children; or
Another important aspect of a wrongful death claim is the types of damages available. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for loss of the decedent’s wages and benefits, as well as loss of care and other noneconomic damages. A spouse could seek damages for loss of companionship or affection, and a child may seek damages for loss of guidance and care. The claim for these damages is brought on behalf of the family.
A wrongful death case may also seek damages related to financial losses – for instance, the medical treatment for the injuries until the time of death – on behalf of the estate. It may even include reasonable funeral costs. This claim might also seek damages for the victim’s pain and suffering from the accident until the time of death.
Importance of Securing Legal Representation after a Fatal Dog Attack
Every case is different, with unique circumstances that may apply. It's important to talk with an attorney who handles fatal dog attack cases. Legal counsel can first determine the validity of filing a claim and can help establish liability and gather supporting evidence.
Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz if your family member is the victim of a fatal dog bite and you’d like to explore filing a wrongful death claim. Call us at (404) 474-0804 or use our online contact form to set up a consultation.