Dog Bites: How to Know if You Have A Case

January 24th, 2020 by Attorney John Colvin

Menacing Looking Dog

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) reports that nearly five million people suffer dog bite injuries every year. These injuries vary widely in their severity—from relatively minor bites that do not puncture the skin to severe bites that may cause permanent disfigurement or even death. 

If you or your child was hurt by a dog, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a personal injury claim. That being said, not every dog bite injury is necessarily legally actionable. How do you know if you have a viable dog bite injury case? Here, our Tennessee premises liability attorney explains what you need to know.  

Tennessee Law: Understanding Dog Bite Liability

Under Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413), dog bite victims may be entitled to financial compensation. Our state’s law is especially complicated because it involves a mix of two types of legal theories: 

  • Strict liability; and
  • The ‘one bite’ rule. 

With a strict liability case, a dog owner can be held legally liable regardless of whether or not they were negligent. However, in a ‘one bite’ rule case, a defendant is only liable if they knew or should have known that their dog was dangerous—typically the dog must have displayed prior aggression towards humans. 

So which standard applies to your case? The answer is that “it depends on the circumstances.” As a general rule, dog owners are strictly liable for the animal when they are in a public place or on the property of a third party. In contrast, the ‘one bite’ rule usually applies when a dog owner is on their own property or a property that they are renting. 

Injured By a Dog? Take Advantage of a Free Case Evaluation

Tennessee’s dog bite law is notoriously difficult to apply. Indeed, there are often sharp disputes regarding whether or not a dog owner or property owner should be held liable. In all cases, insurance companies fight aggressively to pay out as little compensation as possible. You cannot rely on an insurance adjuster to let you know if you have a case. 

If you or your family member was injured by a dog, never assume that you are ineligible for compensation. You should always set up a free case evaluation with a qualified dog bite injury lawyer. We offer initial consultations that are free, strictly confidential and no obligation. Our legal team will review the unique circumstances of your case and help you understand what you need to do to recover the maximum available financial compensation. 

Call Our Tennessee Dog Bite Injury Lawyer for Immediate Assistance

At the Law Offices of John Colvin, our dedicated Tennessee premises liability attorney has extensive experience handling complex dog bite injury claims. To set up a free, no-obligation review of your case, please contact our legal team right away. From our law office in Winchester, we represent dog bites victims throughout the region, including in Franklin County, Coffee County, Lincoln County, and Grundy County.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama