Dog Bite Damages
Dog bites send more than 800,000 people to the doctor each year in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). While some bites require little more than a thorough cleaning and a few stitches, others leave victims with devastating and disfiguring injuries, ongoing medical expenses, and lifelong trauma. Sadly, although anyone can be bitten by a dog, young children and the elderly are at a particular risk for severe injury.
If you or someone you love suffered life-changing physical injuries, financial losses, or psychological trauma as a result of being bitten by a dog that isn't yours, you may have grounds for an insurance claim or lawsuit against the dog's owner. However, while a special Tennessee statute subjects dog owners to strict liability for bites and other injuries a victim sustains when bitten in a public place (or a private place the victim has permission to access), the law has numerous exceptions—including one that makes it more difficult to collect damages for bites that occurred on the dog owner's property.
Here's what you need to know about dog bite cases in the Volunteer State, including what you could recover, what you must prove, and how the caring and capable attorneys at Weir & Kestner Injury Lawyers can fight to help you win your case and lose your stress.
When Tennessee's Strict Liability Law Applies
If you were bitten by a dog in the parking lot at a grocery store in Nashville, your case will likely be governed by the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007 (T.C.A. sec. 44-8-413), which was passed in response to the death of a 60-year-old resident who was killed by a group of dogs while taking a walk. The law holds dog owners strictly liable—meaning plaintiffs aren't required to prove fault or negligence—for injuries or property damage their dog causes in a public place or to a victim who was in a private place with permission. However, the dog bite law doesn't apply:
- To a police or military dog performing its official duties
- To victims injured while trespassing on the dog owner's nonresidential property
- If the dog was protecting its owner or another party from injury
- If the dog was securely confined in a crate, kennel, or other enclosure
- If the victim harassed or provoked the dog
- If the attack occurred on residential property owned, leased, or occupied by the dog's owner
One-Bite Rule Exception to Strict Liability
The "residential exception" to Tennessee's dog bite law applies the "one-bite rule" to cases where the bites or other injuries occurred at a private residence, farm, or other non-commercial property rented, leased, or occupied by the owner of the canine in question. Rather than attaching strict liability, the one-bite rule requires the victim to prove the following to collect compensation:
- The defendant owned the dog.
- The defendant's dog caused the injuries and damages.
- The defendants knew—or should have known—that the dog was aggressive and dangerous.
In other words, if you were bitten on the dog owner's property, they are liable for your injuries only if the dog has bitten, attacked, or shown signs of aggression in the past—and you can prove it.
What You Could Recover in a Dog Bite Case and How We Can Help
Tennessee's dog bite laws are complex—and there's far too much at stake to go it alone. Fortunately, you don't have to. The skilled team at Weir & Kestner Injury Lawyers is here to guide you through every step of the insurance claim or civil litigation processes. We'll handle all the legal heavy lifting: gathering essential evidence, taking statements from witnesses, communicating with insurance adjusters and defense attorneys, and negotiating and analyzing settlement offers.
Having previously represented big insurers, founding lawyers Joe Weir and Tony Kestner know just how these companies assess, value, and handle dog bite claims. They use this insight to maximize the value of their clients' cases and help them collect the recoveries they deserve. Depending on the details of your case, your recovery could include compensation for medical expenses, property damages, lost wages and earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, mental distress, scarring and disfigurement, and other losses.
Talk to Us About Your Tennessee Dog Bite Case
Ready to find out what Weir & Kestner can do for you and your dog bite case? Complete the online contact form or call us today at 615-220-4180 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation. Don't wait; the law gives you just one year to file a claim.