Bitten by German Shepherd...

by Deborah
(Loganville, Georgia)

I went to a man's house to see if I wanted to adopt his dog. He said he didn't have time to devote to the dog and was probably loosing his home to foreclosure. While there, I was bitten on the hand and had to go to the emergency room, where I received stitches and prescriptions.

Now, the dog owner will not supply me with his homeowners insurance company information. As a matter of fact, he is ignoring all my calls. I need to know what to do next. How can I get his insurance info and/or get him to pay for my bills? Is there anything I can do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Bitten by German Shepherd...":

Deborah (Loganville, Georgia):

Quite obviously the dog owner was having severe financial difficulties. His home was going through foreclosure. It's fair to presume the man may not have been current in his homeowners insurance premiums. Worse, his homeowners insurance may have been cancelled for non-payment.

Georgia does not have a law requiring homeowners to volunteer their homeowner's insurance information, unless subpoenaed under court order. Nor does Georgia have a law requiring homeowners to return calls.

Georgia does have a "Dog Bite" statute. Under Georgia Code Section 51-2-7...

"A person who owns or keeps a vicious or dangerous animal of any kind and who, by careless management or by allowing the animal to go at liberty, causes injury to another person who does not provoke the injury by his own act, may be liable in damages to the person so injured."

It appears you did not contribute to your injuries by taunting the dog or otherwise acting negligently.

Prepare a letter to the homeowner. In the letter, review the circumstances of your injuries. Make clear you sustained injuries and incurred medical bills. Ask the homeowner to reimburse you. Send the letter Certified Return Receipt Requested, so you have proof he received it.

In the event the dog owner continues to ignore you, consider suing him in one of Georgia's Small Claims Courts, which have jurisdiction to hear cases up to and including $15,000. Hopefully the matter can be resolved amicably without having to file a lawsuit.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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