Court Issues Big Decision on Georgia’s Dog Bite Rule

Court Issues Big Decision on Georgia’s Dog Bite Rule

Earlier this spring, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed a Court of Appeals decision dismissing a case involving a serious dog bite accident, according to an article published by the Daily Report. In Steagald et al v. Eason et al, Gary and Lori Steagald sued their neighbors David, Cheryl and Joshua Eason after Joshua’s pitbull attacked Mrs. Steagald. At the time of the incident the pitbull, whose name was Rocks, was in the Eason’s backyard with Joshua. Mrs. Steagald came over to visit. While Rocks was on a leash, he was not restrained in the dog pen. Rocks bit Mrs. Steagald, latching onto her arm. As she struggled to escape the dog’s grip, Mrs. Steagald fell and Rocks bit and latched onto her leg. As a result of the dog attack, Mrs. Steagald suffered serious injuries. Accordingly, the Steagalds sued the Easons for damages including the injury itself, medical bills, as well as pain and suffering.


Legal Arguments

In their arguments before the court, the Steagalds relied on evidence that Rocks had snapped at both of them the prior week. Mr. Steagald described the incidents as attempted biting. Consequently, the Steagalds argued, these attempted attacks were sufficient evidence to conclude Rocks had a propensity to bite without provocation and, therefore, the Easons should have had the animal properly restrained in a pen. The Steagalds cited Georgia law O.C.G.A. 51-2-7 to support the argument that the Easons should be held liable for damages.


In response, the Easons filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that they had no reason to know the dog had dangerous propensities. The trial court granted the motion, which the Steagalds appealed. The Court of Appeals, however, affirmed the lower court’s ruling concluding that the snapping incidents were not enough to prove Rocks had dangerous propensities to bite. Instead, the court reasoned, the acts were merely menacing behavior. The Steagalds appealed the affirmation and the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed concluding whether the Easons had knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite was a question for the jury, not the judges, to decide. As a result of the reversal, the Steagalds may pursue their case to a jury trial.


Legal Help in Georgia

 If you or someone you know has been hurt due to a dog bite attack or has suffered any other type of personal injury as a result of the negligence of another, contact a knowledgeable Georgia personal injury lawyer today.

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