PetSmart is one of the most popular places to buy stuff for dogs, cats, and pets in the country. Although people love to take their animals there to play and meet other dogs, PetSmart has been the scenario for several accidents; more specifically, dog bites.
When a dog randomly bites another person in a public place, they have the right to sue the dog's owner to cover the medical expenses of the injury. However, there's a lot of confusion among victims and dog owners when that happens at PetSmart, as it's a place for pets to go.
People confused about what to do if they get dog bite injuries at PetSmart can read this page to learn more. If they straight up need help with a case, they can always call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to take care of everything. This law firm focuses on personal injury cases, so anyone can visit its website to check its practice areas. They can also assist with questions like Who pays if a dog bites my dog in Tennessee?
Can Someone Sue Another Person for a Dog Bite?
The short answer is yes; anyone who gets a dog bite can and should sue the pet owner. Dogs are clearly not to blame for this, and one of the goals of dog bite lawsuits is to punish the dog's owner for not doing anything about the possibility of their dog biting another person.
However, is the dog owner always liable in dog bite cases? The answer is no. Tennessee follows a mix between the strict liability system and the "one bite" rule. When people talk about strict liability, they say that pet owners are always liable for pet attacks with no need for evidence for the case.
That makes it way easier for a dog bite victim to get financial compensation for what happened, as they don't need to prove anything more than the injury they have. The strict liability system works in most states, and in Tennessee, it applies when the accident happens in a public place or if the victim was lawfully in a private one.
Dog owners have several ways to defend themselves in a dog bite injury case, even under a strict liability basis. Many dog bite cases end up with the dog owner not paying anything to the victim because the judge found out the victim was messing with the pet before the attack, which means they indirectly teased the animal to bite them.
If the dog was in a medical condition that made it more vulnerable - for example, if the pet just gave birth - the judge may not consider the dog owner liable for what happened. Dog owners are not liable either if the victim was trespassing on private property or if the accident happened in a place the owner owned or was leasing at the time.
As for the "one bite" rule, it means that pet owners are not liable for dog bite injuries if it's the first time the animal attacks another person. The logic behind this is that they didn't have any way of knowing their pet was going to turn aggressive, so they didn't know they had to do anything to prevent it from happening.
Judges follow this rule in most cases, like when the accident happens in a place where dogs and other animals are meant to gather and play. Regardless of that, victims looking forward to filing a PetSmart dog bite lawsuit, for example, have many ways of making a counterargument for the "one bite" rule.
Although it's difficult, if the victim can prove the owner knew or should have known that the animal would turn aggressive at a certain point, they can still sue them and get compensation for their dog bite injury. Reports from animal control or the dog's vet are excellent pieces of evidence in these cases.
What Happens If the Dog Bit Someone in a PetSmart?
In most dog bite accidents, the pet owner is liable for the bite and needs to pay the victim, but this changes a bit if the dog bites the victim at PetSmart or any other pet store that allows dogs to move freely while inside. When this happens, people who suffer a dog bite injury can choose to sue the dog owner or Pet Smart itself.
Why would PetSmart be liable for a dog bite or what other pets do? Well, it's not that related to animal law but rather to personal injury protection and restrictions. It's all because of the premises liability system, which means owners of a public place or commercial building are meant to make sure the place is safe for anyone entering it.
If someone suffers an injury inside these properties due to the condition of the building or something the owner of the place should and could have foreseen, they can be liable for the accident. The same happens with dog bites.
Commercial buildings that let dogs inside assume the responsibility of making sure the animals in the place aren't dangerous to other clients, especially if it's a pet store. Under the idea that PetSmart should have predicted that an accident was going to happen and that they should have enough personnel to prevent it, victims can make the company liable for any medical care-related expense or lost wages.
In Tennessee, the court system allows legal professionals to file several complaints if they consider there are many liable parties for an accident, so victims can sue PetSmart and the dog owner at the same time if both parties were negligent in keeping the dog from biting other people. Suffering a dog bite is not something people should take lightly and can lead to severe medical problems.
Regardless of that, most dog bite cases in pet stores follow the "one bite" rule, so victims need to find evidence to build a strong case if they want to win it. The best victims with a dog bite can do is to ask for a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Do Pet Owners Face Criminal Charges for Dog Bites?
Similar to other personal injury cases, people often wonder if the owners of dog bites face criminal charges for what their pets do. They can face criminal charges for dog bites, but it doesn't happen all the time, and it doesn't alter the civil processes happening simultaneously.
Pet owners will only face criminal charges if their dogs severely injure or straight-up kill the victim. In these cases, the prosecution would need to prove that either the dog caused severe enough injury for the owner to undergo a criminal process or that the dog bite was the direct cause of the death of the deceased.
Even if criminal and civil cases are happening at the same time for the same dog bite, they are completely independent of the other and don't work together to get to a conclusion. However, if one of the cases ends before the other, the judge could use the settlement as a piece of evidence for its trial, whether it's a criminal or civil one.
Differences Between Dog Bite Criminal and Civil Cases
There are many differences between dog bite criminal and civil cases, even if they happen due to the same accident. The first one is the purpose of the case, as the former comes from the state and seeks to find justice and punish the pet owner for violating the law, while the latter starts with the victim and has the goal of getting compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and other damages.
Evidence in criminal cases has a different purpose than in lawsuits too. The prosecution looks for proof that the defendant committed a crime. Personal injury Nashville dog bite lawyers, on the other hand, want to let the judge know that the injuries of their client happened because of what the defendant did.
It could seem like it's the same, but it's a key difference that makes both cases different. In a personal injury trial, for example, the plaintiff could prove that the defendant was negligent or directly caused the bite, but if it doesn't prove that what they did caused the injuries, their client won't get the compensation they are looking for.
Regarding criminal cases, the prosecution will win the case as long as they prove the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. In these cases, the injuries caused are only aggravating circumstances to determine the final punishment, but they are not determinant for the case itself.
The defendant in criminal cases has the right to a jury trial, and while they can ask for it in civil cases, it's not always granted by the judge. Finally, the statute of limitations for criminal cases is usually longer than the one victims get for civil ones. Victims of a dog bite have one year from the date of the bite to file a claim, but the prosecution has six years to start a criminal case.
Conclusion - Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Victims of a dog bite shouldn't resent the animal in any way, as its owner is the one responsible for keeping accidents from happening. Then, it's only natural for victims to get the compensation they deserve for their medical bills and any other expenses. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are happy to explain how to negotiate a dog bite settlement in TN and much more.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is always ready to help clients get the money they need for the injuries they get. This law firm only wants what's best for the victim, and it will do everything in its hands to get it. People can call it to schedule a free consultation with one of its lawyers now!