How to File a Dog Bite Report in Tennessee

If you or somebody you care about sustains a dog bite injury in Tennessee, you might be confused at first about what steps to take next. It is imperative that you file a dog bite report with law enforcement officials or with animal control in your area. Having an incident report can serve a few purposes, including bolstering your claim with an insurance carrier or during a lawsuit, as well as ensuring the proper authorities know about a potentially dangerous dog. A Nashville dog bite lawyer can help navigate your legal case.

How to File a Dog Bite Report in Tennessee

Who Do You Call After a Dog Bite Occurs?

The number one priority after a dog bite injury occurs is seeking medical treatment. Any individual who sustains a dog bite injury must seek an evaluation from a doctor so that they can begin any treatment for injuries, no matter how minor they seem. Even a seemingly minor dog bite injury can lead to a significant infection that requires more extensive medical care.

When it comes to reporting the dog bite incident, who you call right away will likely depend on the nature of the incident. If there is an emergency, the police need to come right away to handle the incident. If the police do not come right away, dog bite injury victims should still call the police or the local animal control number to report the bite. Law enforcement or animal control can initiate an investigation. If law enforcement officials come to the scene, they will handle communication with animal control officers if needed.

If you need to find the correct animal control phone number for your particular area, go to your favorite search engine and type in your geographic location and the words “animal control,” and the results should pop up. If you have any questions about which is the correct number, you can contact your local municipal government agency and ask if there is an animal control for your area.

What Will an Animal Control Officer Do?

If a dog bite occurs, animal control officers (or police officers in some circumstances) will be able to:

  • Question dog owners about the incident. Most animal control officers will send an officer out to investigate the incident fairly soon after it occurs. The animal control officer or a police officer can question the dog owner, ask to see the dog, and explain the potential consequences of the incident to the dog owner.
  • Confiscate and quarantine dangerous animals. If the dog bite incident led to major injuries, a hospitalization, or involved a child, officers may confiscate the dog and take it to a local shelter for quarantine and observation. In some instances, the dog may be kept until the resolution of the claim.
  • Create an incident report. Animal control or police officers will fill out a report that contains details related to the incident. This report will greatly assist in moving the claim forward with the insurance carrier, or it could help at a personal injury trial.

Why Filing a Dog Bite Report is Important

Filing a dog bite report is important for a few reasons, the first of which is that you need the report when you file an injury claim to recover compensation. Having legal documentation when you file an insurance claim will help make things easier for your dog bite injury attorney. Early documentation makes it harder to refute that the incident occurred and harder to deny a claim.

In addition to having documentation for your injury claim, reporting a dog bite helps municipal and state authorities enforce dog bite laws. This can include helping authorities identify potentially dangerous dogs that must be more closely monitored, per Tennessee law. By reporting a dog bite, you could potentially be helping another individual from sustaining a similar injury from the same dog in the future.

Who Pays for Dog Bite Injuries in Tennessee?

When we examine Tennessee law, we see that this state follows a “one bite” rule as opposed to a strict liability rule that many other states use (Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413(a)(1)-(2)).

This means that the dog owner may be held liable for a dog bite injury, but usually only if they knew that the dog was dangerous or had previously bitten somebody. A dog bite injury victim would have to show that the dog owner failed to take appropriate precautions to prevent the injury from happening, complicating the process of determining liability.

In the event the dog bite owner is liable for the incident, there may be various types of compensation available for the dog bite injury victim. This includes both economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Compensation for medical bills associated with the bite injuries
  • Coverage of lost wages if a victim is unable to work
  • Assistance with household out-of-pocket expenses
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering damages
  • Compensation for scarring and disfigurement

There is no set amount of compensation paid to dog bite injury victims in Tennessee. Rather, each case is examined independently in order to properly evaluate the economic and non-economic losses a victim sustains.

How Long Do You Have to Report a Dog Bite in Tennessee?

There is no specific law that requires you to report a dog bite incident right away, but you need to do so promptly. Right after the bite occurs is the best time to contact law enforcement officials or animal control officials to report the incident. Promptly reporting a dog bite in Tennessee helps ensure that evidence does not get discarded and memories are fresh.

However, if a dog bite injury victim wants to recover compensation for their losses, they need to file an injury claim within the Tennessee personal injury statute of limitations timeline. In this state, injury victims have one year from the date an injury occurs to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. This means dog owners have a one-year window with which to file a claim, or they risk losing the ability to recover compensation at all.