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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 423-201-4208 or contact us online.