Could I Be Charged with a Crime If My Dog Bites Someone?

Could I Be Charged with a Crime If My Dog Bites Someone?

Millions of households across the United States have at least one dog residing within their walls. If you are one of these people, you may wonder just how liable you would be if your dog were to bite someone. The answer to that question varies depending on several factors, not the least of which is the situation in which the bite occurred.

When your dog bites someone, you are undoubtedly worried and stressed out. Will the person be alright? Are you going to be sued? These are reasonable questions that will run through your mind. You may also wonder if you will be charged criminally. The answer to that question is typically no, though you could be charged criminally in certain situations. Here’s a brief outline of what could happen if your dog bites someone.

Two Basic Categories

When your dog bites someone, there are two basic categories that the situation will fall into. The first category is strict liability. This means that you will be liable regardless of whether or not your dog has been aggressive in the past. It also won’t matter what steps you took to prevent the bite in the first place. Ohio, California, Pennsylvania and Michigan follow the law of strict liability.

The second category, into which Georgia falls, is the one bite rule. This means that you will be held liable if your dog has bitten once before. You should have known, according to the law, that because of your dog having bitten once before, it could happen again. You are often given the first bite “free.”

No matter what your state law says, if a victim can show that the bite was due to some type of negligence on your behalf, you could be found civilly liable. You may be forced to pay for the victim’s medical bills, pain and suffering and more.

Criminal Charges

On to the big question: Can you be charged with a crime if your dog bites someone? In some cases, yes, you can. If the dog you own has been labeled as dangerous or the negligence on your part was particularly severe, you could be charged criminally. Whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor will depend on the seriousness of the attack and the behaviors on your part that led up to the bite.

No two dog bites are treated the same because they are very circumstantial in nature. Whether you are held civilly or criminally liable will depend on your behaviors, or lack of, and the behaviors of the animal.

If your dog has bitten someone in Atlanta and you have been charged with a criminal offense, reach out to our office and speak with a member of our team. We will review the details of the incident and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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