Can trespassers sue for dog bite injuries?

It is common for Georgia residents to see “beware of dog” signs posted on their neighbors’ gates, fences and homes. These signs warn others that a canine is present in the house or yard and that the dog may not be restrained. Signs of this nature are often used to deter individuals from entering the properties of others, since the threat of dog attacks is present.

However, if a person chooses to trespass and enter the yard or home of someone who has a dog, they risk encountering that animal. If the dog bites the trespasser, that trespasser may have extensive injuries from their attack. Questions may arise with regard to who is liable for the harm the dog inflicted on the trespassing individual.

In Georgia, a person may be held liable for the injuries their pet inflicts if their dog is considered dangerous, if it is off-leash or if it is not under the owner’s control. In a situation where a dog is contained in its own home, a trespasser may have a difficult time proving that they were not the cause of their own harm when they illegally entered the property of another person and had a warning that a dog was present before they chose to break the law.

Trespassing is illegal, but dog owners have a responsibility to restrain and train their pets. These competing interests may cause different factual situations to arise when pets attack people on their properties of their owners. In order to fully understand a trespasser’s rights and a property owner’s liability, individuals may want to seek professional advice from a personal injury attorney.