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Our Dog Bite Attorneys Help Victims Attacked By an Animal in Bristol

Fighting for compensation for your injuries

Dogs are considered man’s best friend. But they are also responsible for 4.7 million animal bites each year. If an animal has attacked you or someone you love in upper East Tennessee or Southwest Virginia, Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC can help. Our experienced Tri-Cities dog bite lawyers work tirelessly to help victims and their families recover both emotionally and financially from their injuries.

Animal attack statistics

Approximately 800,000 Americans require medical attention for dog bite injuries every year. Almost half of the victims are children, with children aged 5 to 9 at the greatest risk for injury. Pit bulls and rottweilers are considered the most dangerous breeds, accounting for 64 percent of all fatal dog attacks. However, all dogs are capable of biting and causing injury.

Injuries from animals are not limited to dogs and cats. Exotic pets like lizards, turtles, hedgehogs, hamsters, monkeys and ferrets may be even more likely to bite, scratch or claw, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They also carry viruses and bacteria, which can add to the gravity of the attacks.

Who is responsible if I am attacked or bitten by a dog in the Tri-Cities region?

Tennessee no longer follows the first bite rule, which gave dog owners a “free pass” for the first attack. Under current law, the owner of a dog has a duty to keep the animal under reasonable control at all times and to stop the dog from running at large. A person who breaches that duty is subject to civil liability for any injuries caused by a dog in a public place or lawfully on the private property of another.

The law imposes strict liability under most circumstances. This means that the dog owner may be held liable, regardless of whether the dog has shown any dangerous propensities. However, the law has a number of important exceptions, including:

  • The dog is a police or military dog, and the injury occurred during the course of the dog’s official duties.
  • The injured person was trespassing upon the private, nonresidential property of the dog’s owner.
  • The injury occurred while the dog was protecting the dog’s owner or other innocent party from attack by the injured person or a dog owned by the injured person.
  • The injury occurred while the dog was securely confined in a kennel, crate or other enclosure.
  • The injury occurred as a result of the injured person enticing, disturbing, alarming, harassing, or otherwise provoking the dog.

A different premises liability standard applies if the dog bite occurs on the owner’s residential, farm or other noncommercial property, or while the dog is on such property by the permission of the landowner. In these cases, the injury victim must establish that the dog’s owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Tennessee is the only state in the country that has a residential exception for dog bite attacks.

Compensation for a dog bite or animal attack

Animal attacks can cause severe injury, including punctures, lacerations, contusions, fractures, infections, disfigurement and amputations. Many dog bite injuries require reconstructive surgery and may result in permanent scarring. Potential damages recoverable through a dog bite or animal attack claim include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills and future medical care
  • Lost wages and lost earning capacity
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring, disfigurement or permanent disabilities

It is important that you consult a personal injury attorney before speaking with an insurance adjuster or signing any type of release. Insurance companies often try to force accident victims to settle for far less than the claim is worth.

Teaching children to avoid animal injuries

Since dog bite injuries can be particularly devastating for children, they need to understand what to do if they encounter an unfamiliar animal. Tips include:

  • Do not bother an animal while it is sleeping, eating or caring for its babies.
  • Do not tease an animal by poking it, pulling its tail or chasing it.
  • Never pet a dog, cat or other pet without asking permission.
  • If approached by an unfamiliar animal, do not run away. Slowly move away, and try to put an object like a car, bike or backpack between you and the animal.
  • If you are attacked, roll into a ball, cover your face and remain motionless.

Contact an experienced animal attack lawyer about your injuries

Following the physical and emotional trauma of an animal attack, you need a skilled and reliable attorney to protect your rights. Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. has served the Tri-Cities of Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City since 1909. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand Tennessee’s dog bite laws and work hard to achieve the best possible outcome to your case. For a free consultation, call us today at 423-797-6022 or contact us online.