Georgia Dog Bite Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Generally speaking, pet dogs are gentle and loving creatures. But, it's important to remember that they're still animals and can end up biting anyone, sometime causing serious injuries. While some states hold dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their pet dogs, others have a "one bite rule," which holds owners liable if they knew (or should have known) that their dog was dangerous. In Georgia, dog owners aren't held strictly liable; but rather, may be liable if they're negligent in taking care of their dangerous dog.

What Makes a Dog Dangerous?

Under Georgia's Responsible Dog Ownership Law, a dangerous dog is defined as one that:

  • Causes a substantial puncture of a person's skin with its teeth (a nip, scratch, or abrasion isn't sufficient);
  • Aggressively attacks in a way that causes an individual to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to them or another person (just barking, growling, or showing teeth isn't sufficient); or
  • While not on the dog owner's property, kills a pet animal.

The same law also defines a vicious dog as one that inflicts serious injury to a person or causes serious injury while the person was making a reasonable attempt to escape from the dog's attack. Serious injury means a physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, results in broken/dislocated bones or cuts that require multiple stitches, requires plastic surgery or a hospital stay, or results in a prolonged impairment of health (i.e. infection or damaged organ).

Georgia Dog Bite Laws at a Glance

While reading the actual text of a statute is important, it can also be helpful to read an overview of the law. In the following table, you can find a quick overview of dog bite laws in Georgia as well as links to relevant statutes.

Statute(s)

Georgia Code:

  • Title 4, Chapter 8, Article 2, Section 4-8-20, et seq. (Responsible Dog Ownership Law)
  • Title 51, Chapter 2, Section 51-2-7 (Liability of Owner or Keeper of Vicious or Dangerous Animal for Injuries Caused by Animal)
When is a Dog Owner Liable?

A dog owner may be liable for damages if they own/keep a vicious or dangerous dog* and carelessly manage the dog so that it causes injury to another person (whose actions did not provoke the animal).

*In proving "vicious propensity," the plaintiff can simply show that the dog was required to be at heel or on a leash as per a city or county ordinance.

Situations When a Dog Will Not Be Classified as Dangerous

A dog will not be classified as dangerous or vicious if the individual was injured while:

Time Limit for Filing Claim

In Georgia, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim - including injuries caused by a dog bite - is two (2) years.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Georgia Dog Bite Laws: Related Resources

Please visit the links listed below for additional information and resources related to this topic.

Learn More About Georgia Dog Bite Laws: Speak to a Local Attorney

Even if you're not usually afraid of dogs, an attack by a dog can leave you shaken, especially if you've been seriously injured. If you've been bitten by a dog or other animal in Georgia, contact an experienced animal and dog bite attorney near you to learn about your rights and options.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.