New dog ownership legislation has been proposed in Georgia, placing more responsibility on owners to keep dangerous dogs from causing harm. The proposed change in the Georgia dog legislation would classify as a felony, impose fines of up to $20,000, and/or up to three years in prison for the failure to properly secure a dog that seriously injures or kills a person. Bill HB 717 is sponsored by Reps. Peny Houston (R, Nashville) and Amy Carter (R, Valdosta). The recent catastrophic death of Lowndes County’s Misti Wyno at the teeth of a notoriously dangerous pit bull spurned the creation of this legislation, though this has been a hotly contested issue for quite some time.
According to WCTV, many Georgia residents believe that the owner should be held ultimately responsible for the aggressions of a dog. The new legislation change allegedly aims “to provide for criminal penalties for certain owners who fail to secure their dog resulting in the dog inflicting severe injury or death on a human being; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date and applicability; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.” If approved, the law will become active on July 1, 2012, and no previous incidents will be charged under it.
Dog-bite claims have risen sharply in recent years, as medical bills and monetary damages awarded have increased. In 2008 there were over 300,000 visits to hospital Emergency Departments for dog-bite related injuries, with many of these injuries considered serious. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) study states that in a fifteen year period, the number of serious dog bites rose from approximately 5,100 in 1993 to 9,500 in 2008. This represents an increase of nearly 100%. With the growing gravity of dog bites, the treatment for dog bite victims seems to be gradually riding as well, now costing an average of $18,200 per patient.
Negative interactions with a dangerous dog can be harrowing, but an actual dog bite or mauling can lead to significant bodily harm and long-lasting consequences for the victim. When an individual is bitten by a dog, the he or she may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and medical costs. If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, it may be possible to file a dog-bite personal injury claim to recover damages. It is important to know your entitlements when you are bitten by a dog, so contact a dedicated Atlanta dog bite lawyer to take the next step in protecting your rights. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation.