A Barrow County teenager is in a hospital ICU this week after a catastrophic attack by 2 dogs that were running loose in her neighborhood.
Joslyn Stinchcomb, 15, was out for a walk on Friday, July 31, when her neighbor’s 2 pit bulls attacked her without provocation, according to Atlanta’s WSB-TV. Stinchcomb, who was preparing to start the 9th grade at Winder-Barrow High School this fall, suffered severe injuries to her head and neck. Her family says she is on a ventilator because of damage to her windpipe, and is expected to need multiple surgeries.
Local sheriff calls the attack ‘horrific’
Stinchcomb enjoys going for walks, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But on Friday, a neighbor apparently left a door open, allowing 2 pit bulls to escape into the neighborhood.
When Barrow County sheriff’s deputies arrived, the dogs were still attacking the young woman. One of the dogs rushed a deputy, who shot the dog. The other dog retreated. Paramedics ultimately flew Stinchcomb to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where she was put in intensive care.
According to a family member’s August 2 Facebook post (which includes a picture that may be disturbing for some people), Stinchcomb lost her left ear and her scalp in the attack and has suffered nerve damage to her face. Doctors have reattached her ear, but are not sure yet whether that surgery will restore her hearing, or to what extent the nerve damage will affect her facial expressions. They do not expect her hair to grow back.
Stinchcomb also suffered bruises and cuts all over her body, and the Facebook post says she had asphalt under her fingers from trying to get away from the dogs. Her family expects her to need multiple additional surgeries.
The neighbor, who was not named in reports, was arrested and charged with reckless conduct, as well as 2 counts related to the dogs running loose and attacking a person. She didn’t respond when reporters from WSB and the Barrow News-Journal attempted to contact her for comment. The dogs have been euthanized.
Dog attacks are a serious problem in Georgia
All of us at Scholle Law wish this young woman the very best as she recovers. Because we work every day with Georgia residents who have suffered serious personal injuries, we know that the road to recovery can be long after a catastrophic injury such as this. Multiple surgeries are common after a serious dog attack, and that’s just the physical recovery.
Particularly because Stinchcomb is young, there may also be emotional trauma that must be addressed before she feels safe around dogs (if she ever does)—or even taking a walk in her own neighborhood.
Georgia law holds dog owners legally responsible for injuries caused by their dogs. The 2012 Responsible Dog Ownership Law makes owners responsible for attacks on humans or other animals by dogs. Those dogs with a history of attacking or biting must be secured on the owner’s property, and the owners can face felony charges if they let these dogs loose anyway, and a person is seriously injured as a result.
Barrow County also has laws requiring that dangerous and vicious dogs be confiscated and put down in some circumstances.
Secure compensation for serious injuries
Unfortunately, while putting down the dog is important for protecting the community from further attacks, it doesn’t help victims of the original attack. In our experience, the kind of extensive treatments that Joslyn Stinchcomb will need over the next year or more can be hard for an ordinary family to afford.
That’s one of the reasons Georgia residents come to us about filing a dangerous dog lawsuit. In many cases, the dog’s owner has a homeowners insurance policy that covers the costs related to the attack.
That money can be a lifeline for victims who are faced with enormous bills because of someone else’s carelessness. But even if the owner voluntarily makes the claim, insurance companies may not pay right away. In order to get the compensation they need to support their recovery, many victims must sue.
Scholle Law handles animal attack cases like this from across the state of Georgia. If you’ve suffered serious injuries caused by someone else’s carelessness with a dangerous animal, contact us today for a free consultation.