Dog bites that cause injury have become more prevalent in Nashville in recent years. While dogs often provide us with lifetime companionship, comfort, and love, dog bites do occur. According to the American Humane Society, dog bites happen to over 4.5 million Americans every year. Over half of the victims of dog bites are children. When dogs attack, they often bite the neck of their opponent. Because of a child’s small stature, one forceful dog bite can cause severe damage to the neck and vital arteries. Every year, children suffer severe injuries and even death as a result of dog bites.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury caused by a dog bite in Nashville, Cummings Law can help. Our attorneys understand that animal attacks are traumatic for everyone involved. We help our clients who’ve suffered injuries caused by dog bites recover the compensation they deserve. Our skilled personal injury attorneys understand Tennessee’s dog bite law and know how to represent our clients in civil personal injury lawsuits effectively. Contact the Nashville personal injury lawyers at Cummings Law today to find out how we can help you seek compensation.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Any dog can bite a human, regardless of their breed, age, and temperament. Even gentle, well-trained dogs can bite humans when they feel threatened or attacked. Dogs bite for many reasons, such as:

  • Lack of proper socialization with other dogs and humans
  • Lack of adequate nutrition or care
  • A dog has suffered abuse by a human, making the dog excessively aggressive
  • An unrestrained canine approaches a child and bites the child
  • A human provokes a dog while it is eating or sleeping
  • A human provokes a dog while it is caring for her puppies

Tennessee’s Dog Bite Law

Tennessee enacted the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007. The legislature passed this law in response to the death of Dianne Acklen, who died from injuries caused by a dog attack. Three dogs attacked and killed Dianne Acklen as she walked through a neighborhood in Tennessee. Tennessee’s dog bite law uses a combination of strict liability and the “one-bite” rule.

In some circumstances, dog owners are strictly liable for all damage caused by a dog bite, regardless of whether they knew about the dog’s dangerous propensity. When the requirements for strict liability do not occur, an injured party can still bring a lawsuit against the owner. The injured party must prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had a dangerous propensity to bite someone. Proving that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensity can be challenging. Evidence that the dog attacked other animals, aggressively snapped in the air, barked aggressively at guests, or snarled could show a dangerous propensity.

How Does Tennessee’s Dog Bite Law Define a “Dog Owner”?

Under Tennessee’s dog bite law, injured parties may only bring a lawsuit against the owner of the dog who bit them. The law defines an owner as a person who “regularly harbors, keeps, or exercises control over the dog.” A person who is temporarily keeping, harboring, or exercising control over the dog is not considered an owner of the dog.

Residents of Tennessee who are “dogsitting” or taking care of a dog for another person should take steps to ensure the dog cannot escape. If a court determines that the dog sitter regularly keeps the dog, he or she could be liable for those injured by the dog.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Tennessee

Tennessee’s dog bite law imposes strict liability on dog owners in certain circumstances. Under the legal theory of strict liability, dog owners are fully responsible for any injuries caused by their animals, whether or not their animal has bitten humans in the past. Strict liability applies when all of the following elements happen:

  • The dog was running around at large and not under reasonable control during the attack
  • The victim who suffered injuries did not provoke the attack by the dog
  • The attack happened in a public place or on private property not owned by the dog’s owner

What Happens When a Dog Bites a Guest at the Owner’s Residence?

Only attacks that occur on private property not owned, leased, or inhabited by the dog owner will meet the third requirement. Tennessee’s strict liability dog bite law is somewhat unique. When a dog bites a guest on the dog owner’s property, the dog owner is not strictly liable for the injuries caused by the dog.

Guests who suffer dog bite injuries on another person’s property may still seek compensation. The injured party will need to establish that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that the dog had a dangerous propensity to bite. If the dog’s owner knew that the dog has a history of biting other people, the injured party could seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.

Similarly, even if the dog bit for the first time, the injured party may be entitled to compensation. Dog owners are liable when they should have known about their dog’s dangerous propensity. When a dog frequently snarled at guests or had a history of biting other animals, the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensity to bite.

Contact Our Nashville Dog Bite Injury Attorney

If you’ve suffered an injury caused by a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation under Tennessee’s dog bite law. The facts of your case will determine the best strategy for seeking compensation. Under certain circumstances, the dog’s owner is strictly liable for all of the damages you incurred from the bite.

When the owner is not strictly liable, we fight hard to prove that he or she knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensity. At Cummings Law, our personal injury attorneys use our experience to effectively advocate for our clients in settlement negotiations and at a trial. To discover how our Nashville dog bite attorneys can help you, contact our law firm today for an initial consultation.