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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

How to File a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite in TN

While a dog is often considered a man's best friend, these furry companions can also pose a threat to others when they bite or attack, resulting in serious physical injuries, pain and suffering, and mental trauma. Fortunately, Tennessee's dog bite law enables injured victims to seek compensatory damages for their losses.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience helping injured victims fight for their rights against greedy insurance companies. We know how to navigate dog bite claims and can hold the negligent party accountable, ensuring swift justice. 


Those who have suffered dog bite injuries in Nashville, Tennessee, should reach out to us to discuss their case and learn more about their legal rights. Or if they have questions about how to file a lawsuit for slip and fall in TN.


Understanding Civil Liability in a Tennessee Dog Bite Case

Understanding Civil Liability in a Tennessee Dog Bite Case


Under Tennessee dog bite laws, there are two ways injured victims can hold dog owners responsible for their injuries, and these are as follows: 


Strict Liability

In 2007, Tennessee passed a law that allowed affected parties to recover compensation for their dog bite injuries. It requires dog owners to keep their pets under reasonable control and prevent them from running at large. 


The law mandates that all dog owners in Tennessee restrain their pets on public property or someone else's premises. Failure to do so can lead to dog bite liability, for which the injured victim may be able to bring a civil action. 


Under this 2007 law, the affected party does not need to prove that the dog owner knew about the dangerous propensities of their pet or that they were negligent. 


Instead, injured victims must show that they suffered injuries due to the owner's failure to reasonably control their canine when filing dog bite claims. 


One-bite Rule

Besides strict liability, the one-bite rule also governs dog bite lawsuits in Tennessee. Under this statute, an injured victim may be able to hold a dog's owner responsible for their injuries if they knew or should've reasonably known of their pet's dangerous propensities. 


However, the one-bite rule also protects dog owners. It is a "get out of jail" card, as the law does not consider the dog's first attack, letting it go with a slight slap on the wrist (warning).


There are two types of situations where the one-bite rule or strict liability may apply, and these include the following: 


On Public and Other People's Private Property

Suppose an individual is attacked by another dog on public or private property, resulting in injuries. In such situations, strict liability could provide recourse for the injured person.


Since the dog attack happened on public property, there is no need for the affected party to prove that the animal's owner was aware of their pet's dangerous propensities. 


On the Dog Owner's Property

If the dog's owner is aware of their pet's dangerous propensities and fails to reasonably control them on their property, the one-bite rule will apply. In such situations, recovering compensation can become challenging, as the injured victim must prove that the defendant knew or should've reasonably known of the canine's vicious characteristics.


Another thing to remember is that the affected party must also establish liability under premises liability or personal injury law. Simply put, they must prove that the dog owner not only knew of their pet's dangerous propensities but also failed to reasonably control the animal (negligence). 


Whether the dog bite occurred on someone else's property or the dog owner's premises, it's important for the affected parties to work with an experienced Tennessee dog bite attorney. They can evaluate the facts surrounding the case and guide the victim to the best legal option. They can also provide insight on how to file a lawsuit for wrongful death in TN.


How to File a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite in TN

How to File a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite in TN


Here are the steps involved in filing a dog bite lawsuit in Tennessee:


Step 1: Obtain Crucial Details

When an accident happens, it's crucial for the injured victim to ensure their safety before taking down all of the essential details. The same is true for dog bite cases. 


After the dog attack, the injured person must obtain crucial information, such as the dog owner's name, residential address, contact number, and insurance company. 


Filing a police report at this stage is essential, as it can be a supporting document when submitting the claim. 


Step 2: Seek Medical Attention

Dog bites can be devastating, and if not treated immediately, it could lead to bacterial infection and other medical complications, putting the injured victim's life at risk. Seeking treatment is key in preventing diseases and further cementing the affected party's chances of financial recovery. 


Sometimes, dog bites can have a more significant emotional impact than physical pain. Victims may require therapy to recover from the traumatic incident, which could take months or even years. 


Seeking medical attention can not only initiate the road to recovery but also help understand the extent of the injuries.


Step 3: Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney

After seeking treatment, injured victims must reach out to a Nashville dog bite attorney. The Tennessee law pertaining to dog bites can be complex to navigate, as certain rules may apply to particular situations. By working with a skilled lawyer, affected parties can understand their legal options and make an informed decision.


Depending on the facts surrounding the personal injury lawsuit, the dog bite victim may be able to file a claim or bring a civil action in court. While most people use the two terms interchangeably, they're both different. 


A dog bite claim refers to a legal demand addressed to the dog's owner and their insurance company. The injured victim can write a written letter or email to initiate the claims process. It should include the details of the traumatic incident, the dog bite law that applies to the case, supporting evidence, and the amount the affected party demands.


On the other hand, a dog bite lawsuit refers to a legal action brought in court by the injured person against the dog's owner. While going to trial can be time-consuming, it could lead to higher compensation. However, the affected party could also end up with nothing. 


Injured dog bite victims must work with an experienced personal injury attorney to help determine the best legal option. In most cases, lawyers file a claim before pursuing a lawsuit if the defendant fails to settle. 


Step 4: File a Claim 

After contacting an attorney for legal help, the lawyer can assist in filing a claim with the dog owner's insurance company, requesting a certain amount of damages for the injuries sustained. 


The insurer may partially or fully cover the medical bills, lost income, and other losses incurred or reject the claim. 


Step 5: File a Lawsuit

Under Tennessee law, if the insurer denies fault and refuses to settle, the injured victim has the right to file a dog bite lawsuit. The attorney can help navigate the legal process and serve a summon to the defendant, prompting the court to set a trial date.


Step 6: Negotiate or Go to Trial

During this stage, the defense counsel can either settle the dog bite case or fight the lawsuit. If the defendant wishes to negotiate, a mediator may be called to handle the mediation process. 


In case the defense counsel chooses to fight the suit, the injured party's attorney should be ready to present their arguments and evidence in court for the judge and jury to decide the verdict. 


While successful lawsuits are a cause for celebration, it might be too early to celebrate, as the defendant also has the right to file an appeal, which could prolong the legal process. 


Dog Bites Can Be Devastating. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Are Here to Help!


Those who have suffered dog bite injuries in Nashville, Tennessee, should call us to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys. We can evaluate the case, build a strong lawsuit, and hold the dog's owner accountable for the damages caused.

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