In Tennessee canine-related injuries operate under a premise of strict liability. This means that personal injury cases involving dog bites do not seek to find fault and instead hold the dog owner liable for all damages. In order to win such cases, the claimant simply needs to prove that the event occurred and that the defendant was responsible. If you were the victim of a dog-related injury always consult with an experienced attorney to figure out the appropriate legal recourse.
The Dianna Acklen Act
In 2007, the Tennessee state legislature passed the Dianna Acklen Act (T.C.A § 448-8-414) which established the rules for canine-related injury cases in the state. The law provides statutory liability for dog bite cases under a set of circumstances.
The duty of the dog owner is breached and the dog owner can be held liable if the dog is not under some kind of reasonable control and is running at large. Running at large can include being untethered in a person’s unfenced lawn. A dog owner that breaches this duty can be held civilly liable for any injury the dog incurs on another person in a public space or lawfully on someone else’s private property.
There are a few exceptions to be noted from this law. The first is that dogs doing military and police work are exempt from this liability and also dogs that are protecting someone who is being attacked. Second there can be no proven liability for any attack that occurs on residential, farm or other noncommercial property that is owned, rented or leased by the dog owner, or otherwise occupied by the dog owner with permission. The exception to this residential exclusion can be held if the victim of the attack proved that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was vicious or dangerous.
Tennessee is the only state to have this residential exclusion, and considering 50 percent of dog bites occur on the owner’s property, it can make dog bite lawsuits difficult to win in the state. This means proving scienter or common law strict liability if the bite occurred on the owner’s property. To prove this the plaintiff must show that that the defendant owned the dog, that the defendant’s dog caused the injuries and that the defendant knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities.
In order to receive damages for a dog bite claim, the plaintiff must prove negligence on the part of the dog owner. This can be rather difficult to prove without witnesses to the actual event.
The owner can be found negligent if they do not properly restrain the dog to prevent others from any kind of danger. The owner also must be aware any dangers both innate to the dog species itself and peculiar to that specific animal, and must take reasonable care to prevent the dangers from hurting anyone. This means an owner should be aware that a pit bull is innately more dangerous than a Chihuahua but also that the owner should consider any unusually aggressive tendencies that applies to their specific dog.
Contact a Nashville Personal Injury Attorney
Regardless of your knowledge of state laws and statutes, you always need an attorney to assist you with any personal injury claim. While the process can be confusing and lengthy, a skilled Nashville personal injury attorney can help you navigate through the red tape and legal bureaucracy to ensure that you receive the damages that you deserve.