Nobody should have to suffer dog bite injuries due to the negligent or reckless actions of a dog owner.
Yet many people injured by dog bites do not realize that they may have a valid case for holding the dog owner liable.
Sometimes, despite the physical and mental trauma from the incident, nothing is done and the dog may go on to bite another victim in the future.
The experienced dog bite attorneys at Houston & Alexander, PLLC can advise and represent you if you have been the victim of a dog bite in Tennessee or Northern Georgia.
We will assess your case and, if necessary, seek the compensation you deserve from irresponsible pet owners.
Is the dog owner liable for dog bite injuries in Tennessee?
Surprisingly, perhaps, there are almost five million dog bite incidents per year in the U.S, and up to 1,000 adults and children are injured per day.
Over half of dog bite injuries are caused by unrestrained canines on their owner’s property and the most serious injuries are often suffered by young children and babies.
If you or your child have been bitten by a dog in Tennessee, the dog owner is generally liable for the damages you have suffered.
The location of the incident is important, as are other circumstances.
If you are injured in a public place or while you were lawfully in a private place, the dog owner may be strictly liable for injury or damage to your property.
This law of strict liability does not apply in cases where an injury is caused in the following circumstances:
- By a police or military dog on duty
- When you were trespassing on private property
- When the dog was securely confined
- If you provoked the dog to bite
- If the dog was protecting its owner from an attack
A common defense against a dog bite lawsuit is that the dog was provoked or that you were trespassing on the property.
You must be ready to counter these arguments. That’s why it is best to seek representation from an experienced dog bite attorney who is familiar with the strategies used to prove fault in such cases.
What if the dog has not bitten anyone before?
In the past in Tennessee, a victim needed to prove that a dog had a history of aggression in order to win damages.
This law no longer applies.
So, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, it is sometimes possible to prove liability in the sense that the dog owner knew (or should have known) that dog has an aggressive nature.
Again, this requires the experience of a seasoned dog bite attorney.
What is premises liability law in Tennessee?
Premises liability law may come into play in dog bite cases in Tennessee. This law is to protect people against injuries caused by known dangers on someone’s property.
Aggressive dogs and other aggressive pets are considered as “dangerous” conditions for visitors and the immediate neighborhood. The property owner, therefore, has a legal duty to take adequate precautions to protect against unsafe or hazardous conditions for guests and those in the vicinity.
- Keeping dogs on a leash
- Restraining aggressive dogs
- Monitoring children
- Supervising interactions between dogs and visitors
- Providing adequate barriers, if required
- Warning neighbors of potential danger
Failure to follow the guidelines outlined above may result in a preventable dog bite injury for which the property owner can generally be held liable for damages.
Personal injuries or bodily damage from dog bites
Most dogs do not set out to injure people. However, some inadvertently cause harm by lashing out at perceived threats.
When a canine bites, its teeth are designed to tear flesh.
So, depending on the size of the dog and of the victim, as well as the ferocity of the attack, this can result in horrific and life-altering injuries:
- Deep lacerations and open wounds that cause permanent scarring
- Torn ligaments that require considerable time to heal
- Loss of limb
- Temporary or permanent nerve damage
- Hematoma (damage to blood vessels)
- Bone fractures and breaks
- Infected wounds and exposure to rabies
- Emotional trauma
When wounds affect highly visible parts of the body like the face, head, and neck, and result in permanent scarring or a requirement for cosmetic surgery, the emotional trauma can last long after the physical pain has worn off.
Another major issue is the possibility of infection requiring long-term medical treatment. This occurs in about 20 percent of cases.
Can a dog bite victim be compensated for personal injuries?
If you can prove liability on the part of the dog owner, you may be able to pursue damages for the following types of losses:
- Emergency care (often very expensive for bite victims)
- Hospital medical bills (including surgery)
- Prescription medication costs
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Follow-up treatments
- Cosmetic surgery (if required)
- Lost income (where time off work is necessary)
- Future lost income (where your future earnings are affected)
- Mental pain and anguish
The actual amount of damages that you will be awarded depends on the precise circumstances of your case but your attorney should be able to provide an estimate based on past cases.
Please note that if the dog bites resulted in the death of a child or another loved one, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Protect Your Rights: Call Houston & Alexander, PLLC
Dog bite injuries can be complex and must be carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis.
During your free initial consultation, an attorney at our firm can review your case and discuss possible legal strategies with you.
If you retain us, we will represent you on a contingency basis. This means you will owe attorneys’ fees only if we obtain compensation for you.
Call us at our Chattanooga office today at 423-267-6715 or contact us online.