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Premises liability news: Georgia Supreme Court sets new precedent

Does a neighbor own a vicious dog? Would others even know that the dog has a propensity to bite? The owner should know, and the Georgia Supreme Court recently set a new precedent for determining whether a dog may bite that could change these types of premises liability cases here in the state.

In prior cases, Georgia dog owners were responsible for damages done if their dog bit someone and the dog had bitten before. The state gave the owner one chance for the benefit of the doubt as to whether the dog would bite. After all, until a dog bites, how is an owner supposed to know?

That may change after the court's recent ruling. In the case, a woman suffered serious and disfiguring bites from a neighbor's pit pull. Up until the state Supreme Court's decision, the lower courts dismissed her claims, ruling that the owner could not have known the dog would bite.

However, there was evidence that the dog had snapped at people, including the owner's mother, without provocation. The court ruled that this was enough to indicate that the dog may bite someone. Now, the victim may have the opportunity to recover damages for her ordeal.

Under premises liability laws, dog owners may be held responsible for unprovoked attacks. Establishing that the owner knew that the dog could bite may have just gotten easier for those who suffer serious injuries. Being attacked by a dog not only causes physical injuries, but can also cause psychological injuries that remain long after any physical wounds heal. Georgia residents who go through such an experience may now have a better chance of receiving restitution for the damages that these attacks can cause.

Source:, "Dog-bite ruling sets precedent in Georgia", Bill Rankin, Accessed on Sept. 10, 2017

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