According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 4.7 million dog bites per year with 799,700 of these requiring medical care, based on the last year the agency analyzed the problem. Elderly individuals, children, and people in certain professions like postal workers are at a greater risk of dog bites.
If a dog bit you and you need legal assistance, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today. Our Tennessee dog bite lawyers can review the circumstances surrounding your claim and explain whether you have a right to compensation under Tennessee personal injury law. Reach out to us at (800) 816-0755 to get started.
Tennessee Dog Bite Law
Tennessee’s dog bite law is unique in that most states apply either a strict liability or one-bite rule while Tennessee’s dog bite law under TN Code § 44-8-413 uses both. Here are the differences between these two approaches and when they apply.
In strict liability cases, the plaintiff only has to prove that the basic elements of the statute applied in order to qualify for compensation under the law. He or she does not have to prove the dog owner’s knowledge of the dog’s propensity for violence or negligence.
The strict liability rule applies if the victim was injured on public property or while on private property with the owner’s consent, subject to the residential exception of the one-bite rule.
Strict liability does not apply in the following situations:
- The dog is a police or military dog and the bite occurred while the dog was performing its duties and the victim is a suspect
- The victim was trespassing on the property
- The dog was protecting its owner or another person from the victim or the victim’s own dog at the time of the incident
- The dog was in a kennel, crate, or other enclosure at the time of the bite
- The victim was provoking or harassing the dog at the time of the bite
Under the one-bite rule, there is only liability if the dog owner was aware of the dog’s potential to bite someone. If the dog had never bitten anyone before, the first bite may not result in compensation to the victim. However, the one-bite rule does not always give a free pass to a dog’s first bite. If the plaintiff can prove that the dog owner knew or should have known the dog was likely to bite, he or she can still recover compensation for the bite.
Tennessee’s one-bite rule applies in situations in which the victim suffers an injury while on residential, farm, or other noncommercial property that the dog’s owner owns or is a lawful tenant. In these cases, the dog bite victim will have to prove the dog’s owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities.
Possible Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can cause serious injuries and complications. Since many dog bite victims are children or the elderly, these injuries can be even more catastrophic. Typical injuries dog bite victims suffer include:
- Puncture wounds: Puncture wounds are one of the most serious types of dog bite injuries. They occur when the dog’s teeth or claws puncture the victim’s skin. They tend to be deep wounds that require medical attention.
- Fractures: During a dog attack, the dog may jump on the victim, forcing them to fall and possibly breaking their bones.
- Scarring: Dog bites can often be deep and may lead to permanent scarring. Skin grafts or laser therapy may be necessary to minimize the effects of scarring.
- Abrasions: Abrasions include scrapes and grazes that do not extend beyond the top layer of skin. While these injuries are sometimes minor and can be treated at home, more serious abrasions can lead to scarring or infections.
- Lacerations: Lacerations include deep cuts or tears in the skin that may extend into the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and bones and break the skin. These injuries may cause bleeding and may require stitches.
- Infections: Bacteria from the dog’s mouth or your own skin can cause infections that can complicate your injury.
- Facial injuries: Dogs may bite the face of their victim, which may cause damage to the victim’s jaw, cheek, chin, forehead, or other parts of the face. These injuries sometimes require reconstructive surgery.
- Nerve damage: Some victims suffer nerve damage, which may cause temporary or permanent loss of function of the damaged area of the body.
- Rabies: If you do not know whether the dog has a current rabies shot, you should seek immediate medical attention. Rabies is fast-acting and can lead to death, so you will need special treatment that can prevent rabies from developing.
- Tetanus: Tetanus can also occur from a dog bite, so be sure you ask to be screened for this when you seek medical attention.
- Psychological injuries: In addition to the physical injuries that a victim may suffer, psychological injuries may also occur. The victim may suffer from a debilitating fear of dogs for the rest of their life.
Because there are so many possible injuries you can suffer from after a dog bite, it is important that you seek medical attention and follow your doctor’s orders.
Legal Duties of Dog Owners
Under Tennessee’s dog bite law, dog owners have the legal duty to:
- Keep their dog from running at large
- Keep their dog under reasonable control
If the dog owner violates these legal duties, you may have a right to compensation. Our Tennessee dog bite lawyers can investigate your claim and determine if the dog owner violated their legal duties. Contact us to learn how we can help substantiate your claim.
Contact Us for a Free Review
If you were bitten by a dog and would like to understand your rights, a Tennessee dog bite lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help. We do not back down from tough cases and are committed to helping you secure fair compensation after being harmed by a negligent dog owner’s actions. Contact us at (800) 816-0755 to learn more about how we can help.