Tennessee Dog Bite Laws

Dog bite incidents often result in severe injuries for victims. It is crucial that any person bitten by a dog in Tennessee receive the compensation they are entitled to. Dog bite laws vary from state to state across the country, and Tennessee handles dog bite incidents a bit differently than most other states. Here, our state incorporates two of the most common types of approaches to dog bite incidents – the “strict liability” dog bite law as well as the “one-bite” dog bite law. We want to discuss how these two laws work as well as what types of compensation dog bite injury victims may be entitled to and if you were bitten, it is best to speak with a lawyer who handles dog bite cases.

Strict Liability Dog Bite Law in Tennessee

When we turn to Tenn. Code. Ann. section 44-8-413, we can see that dog owners have a duty to keep their animals under reasonable control at all times and to keep them from “running at large.” Any dog owner who fails to fulfill this legal duty could face civil liability for any injuries sustained by a person injured by the dog when the person a public place or lawfully on private property.

The law in Tennessee goes on to say that the owner of a dog could be held liable for any injuries sustained to another party regardless of whether or not their dog has shown any propensity for aggression or whether or not they have bitten anybody before. Under this law, Tennessee holds dog owners “strictly liable” if the conditions above are met. Under a strict liability system, the injury victim does not have to prove that the dog’s owner acted negligently or was at fault in any way. In these cases, the dog owner will have to pay for the damage is sustained to the victim.

We do want to point out that this strict liability law does not apply to any person who has temporary control over a dog and is not the owner. In these situations, the person caring for the dog will not face strict liability if the animal causes harm to another person while under their care.

One-Bite Dog Bite Law in Tennessee

Tennessee also operates under a form of the “one-bite” rule that we see in many other states across the country. If a dog bite occurs on property owned by the dog owner, the injury victim will have to prove elements present in the “one-bite” rule scenario. This means that it needs to be proven that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was potentially dangerous. This dog bite rule is often referred to as the “residential exclusion.”

Types of Compensation Available After a Dog Bite

There may be various types of compensation available to dog bite victims in Tennessee. In these cases, it is not uncommon for injury victims to recover the following:

  • Coverage of their medical expenses
  • Compensation for any physical therapy or rehabilitation
  • Coverage of any necessary surgeries
  • Lost income if it cannot work
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Scarring and disfigurement damages

Time Limit to File a Dog Bite Claim in Tennessee

Victims of dog bites need to be aware that they have a limited amount of time to file these claims in court. The Tennessee personal injury statute of limitations is one year from the day the injury occurred. If a victim fails to file a lawsuit against the dog owner within this one-year time frame, they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to.