Dog owners can be found liable for the injuries their dogs cause to other people. This is why some people decide to put up “Beware of Dog” signs on their fences or in their yards, in order to warn people of the potential danger of being bitten by the dog. While these signs may be effective when it comes to discouraging some trespassers, it is not so easy to tell what legal effect these signs have in terms of limiting the homeowner’s liability.
Generally, a person who is bitten by a dog has to show that the dog’s owner was aware of the dog’s vicious nature before the bite occurred in order to receive compensation in Georgia. The dog owner’s knowledge of the dog’s viciousness can be shown in various ways, including by showing that the homeowner knew the dog had snapped at other people before. An injured person can try to use the “Beware of Dog” sign as evidence that the owner was aware of the dog’s viciousness, and therefore put up a sign to warn other people.
The use of the sign for this purpose may depend on the exact wording of the sign. A simple “Beware of Dog” sign may not be enough to warn of a dangerous dog. If the sign says something along the lines of “Beware of dog. Dog may bite” then the injured person can probably show that the dog owner was on notice as to his dog’s viciousness. If all the homeowner does to warn people of the dog’s viciousness is put up the sign, a court may find the dog owner negligent. The homeowner should take other steps, such as putting up a fence or setting up an area of the yard or home where the dog can be safely kept from those visiting the dog owner’s property.
On the other hand, the dog owner can also try to use the sign to show that he took precautions to warn people about the dog, and should therefore not be held liable. However, a sign warning others of the possible danger a dog presents does not necessarily offer blanket immunity for a dog owner. The homeowner can still be held liable if the owner does not enclose the dog in a safe enclosure or otherwise restrain the dog if other people may wander into the person’s property. A homeowner can sometimes be found liable for injuries caused by a vicious dog to trespassers.
Dog owners also have a defense against claims for compensation filed by a person who provoked a dog. Even if the dog owner has a sign warning of a vicious dog that is likely to bite, an injured person’s provocation of the dog serves as a defense for the homeowner.
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If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of a dog attack, contact an Atlanta dog bite lawyer from Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. for a consultation. You may have a claim against the dog owner and be awarded compensation to cover your medical costs and other financial losses you suffer as a result of the bite and resulting treatment.