Earlier this month, a state appellate court released an opinion in a Georgia dog bite lawsuit discussing the element of causation, as well as the type of evidence that a plaintiff must present to establish liability against an out-of-possession landlord. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence indicating that her injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant landlord’s negligence actions.
According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was on a walk with her dogs a few blocks from her home when two pit bulls approached her. The approaching dogs initially began to quarrel with the plaintiff’s dogs, but when the plaintiff tried to separate the animals one of the large dogs knocked her to the ground and began to attack her. Thankfully, a passerby called the police, and officers were able to stop the attack. However, the plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the attack.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the dogs’ owners. However, the plaintiff later added the landlord as an additional defendant, claiming that the landlord was negligent in failing to keep his property safe. This case involves the plaintiff’s case against the landlord.
Evidently, the tenants’ dogs were being kept in the back yard of the home when the animals escaped through the gate to the front yard. Apparently, the latch on the gate had been broken for some time before the accident, and the tenant relied on a temporary solution to get by. For the purposes of a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the defendant landlord acknowledged that he knew the plaintiff’s kept two pit bulls on the property and that the gate latch was broken.
The Court’s Decision and Analysis
The court found in favor of the defendant landlord, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The court began by noting that in a personal injury case against a landlord, a plaintiff must present evidence of the four elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Here, the court determined that the first two elements were established by the plaintiff’s showing that the defendant landlord failed to fix the gate latch on his property.
The court, however, concluded that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence to show that the defendant landlord’s actions were the cause of her injuries. The court explained that one of the critical factors in determining whether a defendant’s actions are the proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injuries is whether the plaintiff’s injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. Here, the court noted that the plaintiff presented no evidence suggesting that the landlord knew that the plaintiff’s dogs were dangerous. Thus, the court determined that this type of attack was not a foreseeable result of the defendant’s failure to fix the gate latch.
Have You Been Attacked by a Dog?
If you or someone you love has recently been the victim of a dog’s attack, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a Georgia dog bite claim. Attorney Christopher M. Simon is a dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyer with extensive experience representing clients and their families in all types of personal injury matters, including Georgia dog attack cases. To learn more, call 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation today.
Court Discusses “Distraction Doctrine” in Recent Georgia Premises Liability Case, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published December 26, 2018
Georgia Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case for Lack of Evidence Proving Defendant’s Knowledge of Hazard, Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, published January 15, 2019