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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

How Much Compensation Can You Get for a Dog Bite? | Full Overview

Dog bite claims can be a little complicated for some victims. Unfortunately, these cases are more common than people think. Annually, approximately 12,480 people are hospitalized due to severe dog bite injuries.

It's hard to tell exactly how much dog bite victims can make in compensation since every case is unique. Each state has particular regulations surrounding dog bite incidents, and Tennessee isn't the exception.

However, there are a few factors that can help a dog bite victim calculate how much they could earn from their case. Going over the facts of the case with a dog bite lawyer will be the best way to tell how much to expect in compensation.

This page has information on all factors that influence how much someone can get for a dog bite claim. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have answer to questions like What is the dog bite law in Tennessee?

What Counts As a Dog Bite?

What Counts As a Dog Bite?

A dog bite is any damage caused by the jaw, mouth, or teeth of a domesticated dog. These injuries are different from any other dog attack that may involve scratches or other similar cases.

Sometimes, the injury may not be severe enough to file a dog bite case. However, other cases may impact the victim's life significantly, which gives them enough of a reason to file a lawsuit against the dog owner.

Dog Bite Levels

Many professionals consider Dr. Ian Dunbar's scale to tell how severe the dog bites were. There are six levels to consider. The higher it is, the more likely the victim is to get a better payout.

  • Level 1 - It refers to aggressive behavior. Dogs that fall under this category often snap at the air but don't directly sink their teeth into a person's skin. Dog bite cases at this level may not get the victim compensation.

  • Level 2 - These are called "near-bites." They happen when the dog's teeth make contact with the skin but don't puncture it.

  • Level 3 - In a level 3 bite, about one-four punctures occur. However, these punctures can't be deeper than half the length of the animal's canine teeth. Otherwise, they would fall into level 4 bites.

  • Level 4 - This falls under the "severe bite" section. Here, at least one of the puncture wounds goes deeper than half the length of the animal's canine teeth. The victim could experience bruises, lacerations, or other related injuries, depending on how the dog moved while sinking its teeth into the skin.

  • Level 5 - Level 5 bites involve multiple attacks from the same dog. To be considered a "level 5" bite, there should be a minimum of two "level 4" bites.

  • Level 6 - A level 6 injury happens when the victim's wounds are fatal.

It's important to note that this scale isn't to develop any treatment plans for the victim. The scale is used to evaluate whether the dog is likely to attack again in the future.

Factors That May Affect Your Dog Bite Settlement

Dog bite settlements will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. The best way to assess the situation is to talk to a dog bite attorney. These experts have enough experience to tell how much a dog bite injury claim may be worth based on the information available. They can help with questions like What happens if a dog comes in my yard and my dog attacks it?

Still, there are a few factors that can affect how much a person can get on their settlement:

Type of Injury

A dog bite can cause a wide range of injuries, both physical and emotional.

Some of the most common injury types include:

  • Broken bones

  • Lacerations and cuts

  • Eye injuries

  • Severed limbs

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Soft tissue damage

  • Muscle damage

  • Nerve damage

  • Infections

Most of the time, the person will get their settlement evaluated based on how high the medical bills are, how many lost wages they experienced, and how much their quality of life declined because of the injuries.

Age of the Victim and Underlying Health Conditions

Victims of dog attacks may get different settlement amounts depending on their age. If they're older and have underlying health conditions that make them more prone to suffering fatal consequences, they could have a better chance of earning more money.

Why the Dog Bit

There are many reasons why a dog may bite someone, including:

  • Protecting the property

  • Past aggressive behavior

  • Medical issues

  • Anxiety

Knowing what triggered the dog's attack could influence the outcome of the lawsuit.

Strict Liability Law/One Bite Rule

There are two general rules that could apply to someone's case: strict liability and the "one bite" rule.

All dog owners in Tennessee are required by law to:

  • Keep the dog under reasonable control at all times.

  • Prevent the dog from running at large.

Dog owners who don't follow these rules could face strict liability claims. It's important to note that these people may be responsible if the dog showed aggressive behavior or if they knew (or should have known) about these aggressive tendencies.

The "one bite" rule, on the other hand, states that if the victim was bitten by a dog while being on the owner's property (rented or bought), it doesn't necessarily mean the owner will be held liable. In other words, victims must prove that the owner knew (or should have known) that the dog had dangerous tendencies. Otherwise, the owner will not be held liable because it would be considered an "unforeseeable act."

What Can Victims Recover Damages for?

Depending on how severe the dog bite was, victims could recover the following damages:

  • Property damage

  • Medical bills

  • Loss of consortium

  • Loss of quality of life

  • Physical pain

  • Emotional distress/trauma

How Much Is the Average Dog Bite Settlement?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the national average dog bite settlement in 2020 was about $50,425. It's important to keep in mind that this is only a reference, and it doesn't mean that a victim will get that amount of money for their case.

In any case, hiring experienced dog bite lawyers will be the best option to calculate how much the case is worth.

Bottom Line

The professionals at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have experience with dog bite laws in Tennessee and are committed to giving victims the help they need while building their cases.

Those interested in getting started can request a free case evaluation and see which options they have available.


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