Articles Posted in Dog Bite Law

Dogs are a man’s best friends, and they typically bring great joy and laughter to a household. With training, patience, and love, pets can be a wonderful addition to any family. Occasionally, however, certain pets may exhibit aggression, fear, or a propensity for unpredictable behavior. In these circumstances, an owner has an obligation to protect other individuals from the possibility of violent behavior by the pet. If the owner fails to do so, he or she may be held liable for an injury that results. A recent case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals evaluates these obligations and how much knowledge an owner must have before an injury occurs.In this Tennessee dog bite case, D.S. took her son with her to visit the home of her close friend W.A. D.S. and W.A. had known each other a long time, and their children were friends. When they arrived at the home, W.A.’s Australian shepherd, Ruby, was lying on the front porch. D.S.’s son approached and began to pet Ruby on the head and back. Ruby did not appear bothered by this. Later, D.S. and her son went into W.A.’s house and began to relax on a chair in the living room. Ruby came up to them, jumped up, and put her paws in D.S.’s lap, while D.S.’s son began to pet Ruby again. D.S. found Ruby’s actions amusing but not uncomfortable. Eventually, W.A. began to urge Ruby to get down. After several requests, W.A. swatted Ruby on the back, and she jumped down. Ruby ran off into another room for a few minutes and then returned. She again jumped up and placed her paws on D.S.’s lap. This time, however, Ruby bit D.S.’s son on the face, causing severe injuries.

Shortly thereafter, D.S. filed a lawsuit against W.A. for the injuries her son experienced. She argued that under Tennessee common law and Tennessee statutory law, W.A. was negligent in allowing her dog to attack D.S.’s son. In response, W.A. moved for summary judgment, arguing that she had no knowledge of any prior violence or propensity for violence by Ruby and, accordingly, could not be held responsible for Ruby’s actions. Reviewing the record and the lack of any prior history by Ruby, the lower court agreed and granted summary judgment to W.A.

On appeal, D.S. argued that W.A. should be held responsible for Ruby’s actions even if she didn’t know that Ruby was likely to hurt someone. Under Tennessee common law, a dog owner may only be held liable for a dog bite if the dog had a history of injuring people, and the owner was aware of this history. In 2007, Tennessee codified this common law claim and added an element of strict liability. Under the statute, dog owners may be held liable for the violent actions of their dogs, even if they are not aware of a propensity toward violence, if they were not reasonably able to control the dog at the time of the injury or the dog was running at large. However, under the statute, when individuals are in a dog owner’s home when they are injured, they may only bring a claim against the dog owner if the owner had reason to know that the dog was violent.

A dog is often referred to as “man’s best friend” and is considered by many to be a part of their family. They offer their family unconditional love; entertainment and a lot of them provide protection. However, when they attack someone they can cause serious physical and emotional trauma.

If you or a loved one has been attacked or bitten by a dog, there are laws in Nashville that will protect your legal rights. Contact a Nashville dog bite attorney to find out what your rights are and whether or not you are entitled to compensation under these laws.

What To Do After A Dog Bite

Dog bites are among the most common personal injuries that can occur to any child or adult. You can never predict when a dog will attack you. Even the gentlest dogs can cause you harm. If you’ve suffered from a dog bite, the first thing you will want to do after seeking treatment is contact a personal injury lawyer. A dog bite may not only cause psychological trauma and permanent disfigurement, it can also cause death. Personal injury lawyers in Nashville, TN can help protect you from the disastrous effects of a dog bite by offering you legal assistance when filing a dog bite lawsuit. Below is a detailed overview of the Tennessee dog bite statute.

Strict Liability

In 2006, a 60 year Old woman named Dianna Acklen was killed by 3 dogs while taking her regular walk in a rural residential neighborhood. This prompted the Tennessee Legislature to pass the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007, which abolished the First Bite Rule. Under that law, a dog owner had been exempted from liability if their dog had never attacked or bitten anyone before. The Dianna Acklen Act, by contrast, established Strict Liability for certain dog bite injuries, regardless of whether or not the dog in question has displayed vicious tendencies before.

The new law obligates dog owners to keep their dog(s) under reasonable control and on a leash. In the event that a dog owner breaches this provision, they can be subjected to civil liability for the damages suffered by a victim, no matter if they are in a public place or on the private property of another.

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The laws regarding liability in dog bite cases vary from state to state. In Nashville, Tennessee, the most pertinent aspect of the law is the so-called One Bite Rule. If you are bitten by a canine, the circumstances under which the bite occurred are of vital importance when taking your case to court – the same goes, of course, if you are the owner of the offending dog.

The First Victim Free?

What, exactly, does the One Bite Rule entail? The rule essentially forgives the dog and owner of a bite or attack on another person; provided that there is no previous history of an attack by that dog. The dog, therefore, is legally “allowed” one bite, and the owner is shielded from prosecution in a civil case.

Essentially, a Nashville dog bite attorney would tell you, the owner of a dog that bites a single person had no reasonable expectation that their domesticated animal was capable of such an act. Only if the dog was to bite or harm another person in a similar manner as the first victim would the owner and canine be rendered liable.

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