Am I Liable if My Pit Bull Dog Bites Someone?
Columbus Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Mark Jones regularly represents clients who have been attacked by dangerous dogs such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and the like. So when is a dog owner or landowner liable for injuries or scars caused by a dog bite?
General Rule on Dog Bites: One Free Bite Rule (Notice Requirement)
In Georgia and Alabama, the general rule is that a landowner must have notice of a dog’s tendency to bite before a court will hold a landowner liable for injuries caused by the dog bite. Reddett v. Mosley, 222 So.2d 369 (Ala. Ct. App. 1969); Alabama Code 3-6-1; McBride v. Wasik, 179 Ga.App. 244 (345 S.E.2d 921) (Ga. App., 1986). This has been dubbed by courts as the “one free bite rule.”
Dangerous Breeds of Dog Exception to the Notice Requirement
However, in Alabama, the Courts have recognized an exception to the general common law rule of “one free bite” where the owner must have notice of a dog’s dangerous propensities to bite before being held liable. Instead, in Alabama, a landowner or dog owner will be liable for a person’s medical bills and pain and suffering if the owner owns a dangerous breed with a propensity to bite.
In the Humphries case the Court held that “a party could rely on a breed’s an owner or keeper of an animal will be charged with knowledge of the propensities of the breed of animal he or she owns.” Id. This means that in Alabama a dog that is a pit bull or other dangerous breed that bites can result in liability to the dog owner or landowner regardless of whether the owner had knowledge of the dog having bitten before.
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