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Owners' Responsibility to keep their Animals on their own Premises to avoid Injuries and Deaths in Georgia

On December 29, 2013 a new bride from Ballground, Georgia, just North of Canton, GA, Kali Dobson Quinton, was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, Ryan Quinton, after their wedding that day when Ryan swerved to avoid a dog in the roadway whereby the car overturned ejecting Ms. Quinton, age 25, and killing her at the scene after being trapped under the vehicle when it came to rest. This is a senseless tragedy and the end of a young woman's life who had everything to look forward to after her wedding day. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of Ms. Quinton.

This accident could have been avoided if the owner of the dog kept the dog on the premises in accordance with Georgia Law. Although O.C.G.A. Section 4-8-29 addresses Limitations of a dog's presence off of the owner's premises for vicious animals, it could be argued that any dog off the premises of the owner or keeper that causes an injury or, in this tragic case, a Death, that the owner or keeper could ultimately be held liable for the injury or death caused by the animal off the premises of the owner or keeper. To read more about this terrible tragedy you may find the story in the Cherokee Ledger.

In rural areas such as Canton, GA we have many farms with livestock. Georgia Law O.C.G.A. Section 4-3-3 addresses the issues surrounding the Owner's Responsibility for permitting such livestock to run at large or stray, and O.C.G.A. Section 4-3-4 addresses the Impoundment of live stock running at large or straying. Georgia Law O.C.G.A. Section 51-2-6 addresses the Liability of the owner or keeper of a dog for damages done to livestock while off of his or her premises. I argue that this could extend to damage to people as well as livestock under Georgia Law such as in the case described above.

Furthermore, O.C.G.A. Section 51-2-7 addresses the Liability of the owner or keeper of a vicious or dangerous animal for injuries caused by the animal. Although this statute addresses the issue of vicious animals, the highest court in New York held that the law in New York that dealt with vicious propensities of animals may not have applied in a case in New York where a woman driving down a rural road crashed into a cow that had escaped from the premises of the owner or keeper. Instead, the Court held that farmers had a Legal Duty to keep livestock enclosed. You may see my newsletter titled Fall Consumer Safety Newsletter 2013 for more information about this most interesting case.

When I was a young girl, I grew up on 32 acres of land and we had several horses on our property. One night, the fence broke in one place and the horses escaped onto the roadway. Fortunately, all but one horse was rescued to safety before injuring any person or the animal. Unfortunately, one horse was struck by a vehicle. The car was damaged, but, luckily, the driver of the vehicle was not injured. The horse did die, however, a few days later. This was a pony named "Woody" that we grew up with and the entire incident was a tragedy. Although this does not compare at all to the loss of a loved one such as Ms. Quinton, it does illustrate the importance of keeping your animals on your property and safe from injuring others or the animal.

In the Quinton case, the dog may have been a stray dog or it might have had a rightful owner. In either case, it is an accident that should not have happened to such a young lady. O.C.G.A. Section 51-4-3 allows Mr. Quinton to bring a Wrongful Death action for the senseless death of his wife.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident where injuries or a death occurred, then please feel free to contact us for your free consultation by any or all of the following means by phone at (770) 865-8654, and (813) 363-6664, by email at [email protected], and/or Contact Us on our website. We are very compassionate about our work to assist the injured and/or the families who have lost a loved one, and we look forward to assisting you if you are faced with such a tragedy.

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