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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is the Dog Bite Law in Tennessee?

The legal proceedings for dog bites can vary depending on the state. If the dog bite injuries are severe enough, the victim could hold the owner liable for their pet's actions.


It's important to know how the Tennessee dog bite law works before filing a claim. In this state, people can expect a mix of the "one bite" rule and the "strict liability" rule. What does this mean, though?


A dog bite case's outcome will ultimately depend on the circumstances surrounding it. Those who believe they have a dog bite case on their hands should contact a professional dog bite attorney. The experts at Schuerger Shunnarah can guide any injured person through this extensive process.


About Tennessee Dog Bite Laws

About Tennessee Dog Bite Laws


There are two main laws surrounding dog bites in Tennessee. It's important to know how each of these rules works to see which one applies to the victim's case. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with answering questions like How much compensation can you get for a dog bite?


What's the Legal Duty of a Dog Owner in Tennessee?

Dog owners in Tennessee are legally responsible for keeping their dogs under reasonable control. They can't allow the dog to run at large, meaning it can't run off their property unrestrained. Failing to follow any of these rules may result in the owner getting sued by the victim.


These rules don't apply if the animal is a military or police dog and it was on duty when the injuries happened. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for help with other questions such as What is the statute of limitations for dog bite in Tennessee?


When Does Strict Liability Apply?

The strict liability law states that a dog owner can be held liable even if they didn't have knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities. There are two main scenarios where this rule can apply:

  • The victim was injured while being in a public place.

  • The victim was injured while being lawfully in a private property.

It's important to note that there are a few situations where the dog owner may have a reasonable defense. If the person provoked the animal in any way, for example, the owner may not be held liable.


Other cases where a dog owner won't be held liable include if the dog was confined in a kennel.

If the victim was trespassing or committing a crime when the injury happened, they won't be able to file a legal claim for a dog bite injury.


What's the One-Bite Rule?

The "one bite" rule, on the other hand, is slightly more complicated. Dog owners can claim that the animal has never bitten anyone in the past or that it has never shown aggressive behavior. The statute explains that a dog owner isn't liable for their dog's "first bite" if they didn't know the dog was dangerous.


Here, the victim must prove that the owner knew their dog was dangerous and didn't take the necessary precautions to prevent the incident. Unfortunately, it can be extremely hard to prove the owner knew about that.


There are plenty of defenses that dog owners can use in their favor, including:

  • The victim was trespassing in a private place.

  • The dog was provoked by the victim.

  • The incident happened on a residential property owned by the dog's owner.

  • The animal is a police/emergency rescue dog.

  • The incident happened on the owner's rented or leased property.

It's vital to note that the "one bite" rule doesn't allow any dog to bite people without reason. According to the statute, the owner will only be liable if they knew their dog was dangerous and didn't do anything about it.


In other words, a court can apply either strict liability or the one-bite rule, depending on where the incident happened.


What Should Dog Bite Victims Do After Getting Attacked?

What Should Dog Bite Victims Do After Getting Attacked?


Most dog bite cases can leave the victim in a lot of physical and emotional pain. It will be hard to know what to do right away.


However, victims must move fast if they want to get legally compensated for their injuries. In Tennessee, victims only have one year after being injured by a dog to file a claim. Missing this deadline will result in the claim getting dismissed.


Dog bite victims can recover both economic and non-economic damages from a dog bite, depending on how severe it is. Here's an overview of what to expect:


Economic Damages:

  • Medical bills

  • Lost income

  • Property damage

Non-economic Damages:

To have a better shot of earning proper compensation after a dog bite case, the victim should contact an experienced attorney. They will walk the person through the entire process of filing their claim the right way, ensuring a higher chance of getting justice.


However, that's not the first thing a person should do after getting attacked. Most of the time, victims must follow this process:

  • Seek medical attention.

  • Report the incident to the police, animal control agency, or any other relevant authority.

  • Collect as much evidence as possible. It can include photos of the dog and the injuries, videos, and physical evidence of the bite (i.e., bloody clothes).

  • Gather the dog owner's contact information.

  • Get the contact information of potential witnesses.

It's crucial to seek medical attention even if the injury seems to be minor. Some bites, regardless of their size, could cause fatal infections. Gathering medical reports on top of all the other evidence will serve as the perfect foundation to file a solid claim against the dog's owner.


Bottom Line


Getting attacked by a dog is already scary, but going through a legal claim without any assistance can make things worse. Not knowing what to do can lead to a loss of money and time, which will only put more pressure on the victim's shoulders.


The best way to evaluate dog bite liability and file a strong case against the dog's owner is to contact a professional attorney. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has a team of legal professionals ready to "go to war" for their clients. Dog bite claims can get more complicated as time passes, so victims shouldn't wait any longer to file their claims.


Those interested in getting their claim started can request a free case evaluation with the team today.

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