Can Breed Affect the Outcome of a Dog Bite Case?
Posted in Dog Bites on October 9, 2023
Every dog owner has a responsibility to ensure that their pet does not affect the safety of others. When dog bite injuries occur, victims are often able to recover compensation, but dog bite cases can be challenging. Here, we want to examine whether or not the breed of a dog can affect the outcome of a dog bite insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Are There More Dangerous Breeds?
If you delve into the debate over whether or not specific dog breeds are dangerous or whether dog aggression comes from the way the pet was raised, you will never run out of controversial opinions to read. Instead of delving into the debate, we can look specifically at studies that point to commonly banned breeds, which include:
- Chow Chows
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Wol Dogs
One of the most common places that we see specific dog breed bands is inside insurance carrier policies. Homeowners’ insurance carriers and renter’s insurance carriers are the places most affected by specific dog breeds and aggression because they are the ones that have to pay out claims when an injury occurs. Because of this, the insurance carriers have determined that some dog breeds are too dangerous to provide insurance for.
Thus, the very nature and existence of breed bans inside insurance policies indicates that, yes, a dog’s breed can affect the outcome of a dog bite case. However, we do want to point out that numerous studies state that aggressive dog behavior relates to demographic, environmental, and behavioral factors, not specific breeds.
Why would an insurance breed ban affect the outcome of a case if you sustain a dog bite injury?
The number one method of compensation recovery after a dog bite occurs is a settlement through an insurance carrier from the dog’s owner’s policy. However, if the dog bite that bit the victim was excluded from the owner’s insurance policy, then the insurance carrier will not pay out compensation to the victim.
This does not mean that the dog bite victim has no recourse. They do, but they will have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner in civil court.
What is Examined in a Dog Bite Case?
Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413(a)(1)-(2) specifies that Tennessee follows a “one bite” rule for dog bite incidents rather than a strict liability rule. In a one-bite rule state, the dog owner will typically be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog if the dog owner knew of the dog’s propensity for aggression or if the dog had previously bitten someone.
If it turns out that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that the dog was likely to bite and injure somebody, victims will likely be able to recover compensation by filing a claim against the dog owner. However, the dog bite injury victim would have to show that the dog’s owner did not take appropriate precautions to prevent the incident from occurring.
Can a Victim Recover Compensation?
Victims can recover compensation after a dog bite occurs, but as we have reviewed in this article, the dog breed could complicate this with the insurance carrier. Additionally, even if an insurance carrier does pay a claim, they will likely offer a low settlement at first, a common tactic with insurance carrier payouts. You need to work with an attorney who can negotiate with the insurance carriers or other parties involved to obtain a fair settlement if you have sustained a dog bite injury.
Dog bite injury victims are often able to recover a range of compensation types through an insurance settlement or as a result of a personal injury jury verdict. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Complete coverage of medical expenses related to the dog bite
- Any follow-up rehabilitation or physical therapy
- Lost wages if a victim is unable to work while they recover
- Out-of-pocket household expenses are rising due to the incident
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering damages
- Loss of quality of life damages
- Compensation for any scarring and disfigurement, particularly to the hands, arms, or face
The total amount of compensation available for a successful dog bite claim in Tennessee will vary depending on several factors related to each particular case. Some of these factors include the initial severity of the injury, how long it takes a person to recover, and the documented level of pain and suffering the victim endures. When you work with an attorney to help secure compensation, they will enlist assistance from trusted medical and economic experts to adequately calculate your total expected losses.
Can an Attorney Help Recover Compensation?
Recovering compensation after a dog bite occurs in Tennessee can be challenging. We do recommend contacting an attorney for a free consultation so you can gain an understanding of the best steps moving forward. Because of the “one bite” rule in Tennessee, it will be necessary to show that the dog owner was negligent in some way by failing to prevent the incident.
An attorney can conduct a complete investigation into the claim in order to determine what happened. They can present this evidence to the insurance carriers or to a personal injury jury. A lawyer will also be responsible for handling all negotiations with other parties to obtain fair compensation on behalf of their client. If necessary, a lawyer can prepare the case for trial if that is what is needed for compensation to come through.
There are limited timelines for filing dog bite injury claims in Tennessee. The personal injury statute of limitations in this state is one year from the date an injury occurs. Dog bite injury victims need to file their claims against the alleged negligent dog owner within one year, or they will not be able to recover compensation for their losses. Your Nashville dog bite attorney can help you prepare the claim and get it filed on time so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.