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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite in Tennessee?

Dog bites can be devastating for the injured person. Even if the injury is not severe, the victim can still experience mental and emotional distress, which may interfere with their daily life.

The best way to seek justice and get compensated for all the damages suffered is to file a lawsuit against the dog's owner. Every state has a set of rules surrounding how much time people have to file their case. Missing the deadline will get the victim's case dismissed, so it's essential to start working on it as soon as possible.

This article will review Tennessee dog bite laws, particularly the statute of limitations. By understanding how much time a person has to file their case, they'll have a better shot of working with their dog bite attorneys to find a great defense plan.

About the Statute of Limitations in Tennessee

About the Statute of Limitations in Tennessee

The statute of limitations refers to the period a person has to file a legal claim against the defendant. In other words, people who suffer from dog bite injuries have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. Contact for more information on questions like What is the dog bite law in Tennessee?

How Long Does a Victim Have to File a Claim for a Dog Bite?

According to the Tennessee Code (S 28-3-104), victims have one year from the date of the incident to file a claim. The statute of limitations in Tennessee is much shorter compared to other states, which is why it's so important that the injured person takes action as soon as possible.

People who fail to file a claim within the statute of limitations period will lose the ability to recover the money they deserve. Dog bite lawsuits are tough to handle, so it's recommended to seek help from a legal expert so that the victim can focus on healing while the attorney handles the rest.

How Does Tennessee's Strict Liability Law Work for Dog Bites?

Dog owners in Tennessee are legally responsible for keeping their animals under "reasonable control." They also need to keep the dog from running at large. If the dog owner fails to follow these rules, and their animal hurts someone who was in a public space or on private property (lawfully), they will be liable for the injuries caused.

Tennessee's strict liability law, in other words, means that the victim doesn't need to prove that the owner didn't know about the dog's dangerous propensities if the conditions mentioned above are met.

It's important to note, however, that the dog bite liability law has a few exceptions. Dog owners may be able to avoid legal consequences if:

  • The victim provoked the dog.

  • The victim was trespassing on the owner's property.

  • The dog was securely confined in a crate/kennel.

  • The dog is a police/service animal that was on duty.

  • The dog was protecting its owner (or other innocent party) from the victim's attack. It also applies to attacks from a dog owned by the victim.

Dog owners can use any of these defenses and avoid liability. Victims should first talk to an attorney to see if their case includes any of these scenarios.

About the One-Bite Rule

Tennessee works with a slightly different version of the "One-Bite Rule" that other states enforce. In this state, the one-bite rule applies if the incident happened on a property owned by the dog's owner, whether it's leased or rented. If the dog's owner knew (or should have known) about the dog's aggressive tendencies, they may be liable for the injuries.

The one-bite rule is slightly more complicated to apply since the victim must prove that the owner knew about their dog's behavior. If the victim can't prove that, the court will grant the owner a "free bite," meaning they won't be held liable for an "unforeseeable act."

Victims will have one year to file their claim whether it's under the one-bite or strict liability rule.

Can an Injured Person Recover Damages from the Dog Owner?

Yes. The Tennessee dog bite law allows injured parties to seek compensation for injuries caused by someone else's dog. Dog owners, however, will likely argue one of the defenses mentioned earlier, making the case tougher for the plaintiff. The most common defenses include that the victim was provoking the animal or that they were trespassing on the dog owner's property.

A professional lawyer can help these people seek justice for their injuries the right way. Once the victim goes over the case with a legal expert, they can come up with the most appropriate plan of action. They can help with questions such as Do hospitals report dog bites in Tennessee?

Depending on the circumstances, victims could recover compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical bills

  • Lost wages

  • Loss of consortium

  • Property damage

  • Emotional distress

  • Mental anguish

What Should Victims Do After Getting Bit by a Dog?

What Should Victims Do After Getting Bit by a Dog?

It may be hard to know what to do right after getting a dog bite since the victim will probably be in shock. However, it's important to act as soon as possible to ensure the person injured doesn't get any health complications in the future.

Even though all cases are different, here are some steps victims must follow after being attacked by a dog:

  • Seek medical attention.

  • Take photos and videos of the incident and injuries.

  • Collect any physical evidence that could work in the case, such as bloodied clothes or damaged property.

  • Gather the dog owner's personal information.

  • Gather potential witnesses' personal information.

  • Call the police and/or a local animal control agency.

  • Contact a lawyer to compile all documents and build the case correctly.

Bottom Line

Whether it's a dog bite or any other personal injury, the best thing the innocent party can do is to start building their case as soon as possible. It may be hard to focus on legal proceedings while recovering from injuries, especially if they are severe. However, not filing the case in time could lead to even more distress in the future.

Knowing what to do in these cases can be complicated, which is why it's always recommended to seek help from a professional attorney. The people at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have been working with dog bite victims for several years, and they have the experience necessary to bring the at-fault party to justice and get the compensation their clients deserve.

Those interested in learning more about the dog bite law in Tennessee or going over their case with a legal expert can schedule a free consultation today.


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