Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites in Tennessee?

Dog bites are not uncommon, but they can lead to major medical expenses for a victim. In many cases, dog bite injury victims are able to recover compensation for their losses from the dog’s owner, often through a claim against their insurance carrier and with the help of a Nashville dog bite attorney. Homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover dog bite incidents, but did you know that renter’s insurance also covers dog bites in most situations? 

Who Pays After a Dog Bite Occurs?

When we examine Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413(a)(1)-(2), we can see that Tennessee follows a “one bite” rule in most of these situations. This means that, in order for a dog owner to be held liable for an injury, they would have to know that the dog is dangerous or has previously bitten someone.

The Tennessee “one bite” rule is used in cases where the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was likely to bite somebody. The injured individual would have to show that the dog owner failed to take appropriate precautions to prevent the injury from occurring. In these situations, it can be challenging to prove liability.

Will Renter’s Insurance Cover a Dog Bite Claim?

In most situations, renter’s insurance will indeed pay for a dog bite claim, but there are some exceptions. For example, some renter’s insurance policies have a “restricted breed” list, which means they will not ensure that particular breed of dog. Dog owners must be aware of whether or not their renter’s insurance covers expenses associated with a bite injury.

Types of Compensation Available for Victims

Dog bite injury victims in Tennessee may be able to recover various types of compensation through the dog owner’s renter’s insurance. This will typically pay for medical bills associated with the dog bite injury, as well as other costs, such as lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, etc.

However, a renter’s insurance policy will only pay the amounts available up to the limits of the policy. In the event renter’s insurance fails to cover all the expenses a dog bite victim incurs, it may be necessary for the victim to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the dog bite owner to recover additional compensation.

Will You Need an Attorney?

We strongly encourage dog bite injury victims to reach out to an attorney for a free consultation of their claim. An attorney can help guide the dog bite injury victim toward the best path for recovering the compensation they need to get through this. If you work with a lawyer, you will have an advocate ready to investigate the claim in order to determine liability. They will take over all communication with other parties, including handling negotiations with the renter’s insurance carrier.

Time Limit for Filing a Claim with a Renter’s Insurance Carrier?

There is no specific timeline for filing an insurance claim with a renter’s insurance carrier after a dog bite in Tennessee. However, most insurance carriers require fairly prompt reporting after an incident occurs. Failing to report a dog bite incident relatively soon after the incident could result in increased scrutiny from the insurance carrier, along with claim delays or denials.

If you or a loved one sustains a dog bite injury, we encourage you to work with an attorney to ensure your claim gets filed as quickly as possible.

Individuals should also be aware of the Tennessee personal injury statute of limitations. In this state, individuals have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit in civil court against the alleged negligent party. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, the dog bite victim needs to file a claim within one year from the date the injury occurs. In many cases, an attorney will go ahead and file a personal injury lawsuit at the same time they file the insurance claim. The important aspect is that all claims get filed promptly in order to avoid any claim delays or case dismissals.

Will Homeowners’ Insurance Also Cover a Dog Bite?

Even though we have discussed renter’s insurance, you should also know that most homeowners’ insurance policies will also cover dog bite injuries. If the alleged negligent dog owner owns a home as opposed to renting, then your claim would be filed with their homeowners’ insurance carrier as opposed to the renter’s insurance carrier. This process is relatively the same, but the homeowners’ insurance policy may also have specific breeds that are excluded.

How Quickly Will You Receive a Settlement?

There is no specific timeline for how long it takes a person to receive a settlement if their claim against a dog owner is successful. The renter’s insurance carrier will examine the claim and make a determination about whether or not to accept the claim or deny it. 

If the insurance carrier does accept the claim, it is likely they will first present a low settlement offer. This is a common tactic used in order to pay as little as possible in the hopes that the dog bite injury victim will want to settle the case quickly and move forward. However, we encourage you to work with a lawyer who can examine the merits of any settlement offer proposed by the renter’s insurance carrier. An attorney can handle negotiations with the insurance carrier in order to secure the compensation the victim really deserves.

Common Injuries Associated With Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites can lead to a range of severe injuries for a victim. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Puncture wounds and lacerations
  • Fractured bones, particularly in the hands and wrists
  • Facial injuries
  • Significant scarring and disfigurement
  • Severed arteries, veins, tendons, and muscles
  • Major infections

Dog bite incidents can also lead to significant emotional and psychological trauma for the victim. This can include long-lasting periods of fear and anxiety and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dog bite injury victims must seek prompt medical care and keep all medical records associated with the treatment they receive after the incident occurs.