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How Does Tennessee’s Residential Exclusion Affect Dog Bite Lawsuits?

Dog bites happen far more frequently than many people suspect, and they can come with no warning. Imagine your child playing with friends in their yard when a dog suddenly rushes up and sinks his teeth into your child’s arm. This happened recently in southeastern Tennessee, potentially causing nerve damage that could affect the child’s ability to use that arm.

Unfortunately, the child’s parents might have difficulty recovering damages from the dog’s owners for their child’s injuries. Under Tennessee law, a dog owner has a duty to keep their dog under control and to prevent it from running at large. Dog owners who fail in that duty, such as by letting the dog escape the owner’s property, are usually liable for the resulting injuries, regardless of whether they are at fault. However, if the dog bite occurs on the dog owners’ residential property, they are protected by a “residential exclusion,” which requires the plaintiff to prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had dangerous propensities.

In this case, the dog was owned by the family that resided on the property where the child was bitten, and they claim that the dog, which they purchased less than two weeks before the attack from a man they claimed not to know, was never aggressive toward them or their own children. Therefore, not only is the dog’s attack on the child covered by the residential exclusion, but the victim’s attorneys will need to prove that the dog owners are either lying or leaving out information that points to liability.

Fortunately, there may be ways to find out the truth. The owners denied that the dog attacked them and their family, but they evidently said nothing about whether it ever attacked anyone else. They purchased the dog less than two weeks before the attack, but Animal Control told them to find the original owner and get the dog’s records. If the prior dog owner told the current owners the dog was dangerous, it would help build a case for liability.

The skilled dog bite injury attorneys at Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. in Bristol, Tennessee have more than 75 years of combined legal experience representing personal injury victims. If you or a family member has been injured by a dog bite, we are ready to put our skills and knowledge to work for you. Call our law firm at 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule your free introductory consultation.

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  • Bristol Office
    777 Anderson Street
    Bristol, Tennessee 37620
    Phone: 423-797-6022
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