Experienced Clarksville Dog Bite Attorneys Ready To Serve You
The legal team at Batson Nolan have represented numerous clients implicated on both sides of dog bite litigation. Regardless of whether you are a dog owner seeking a zealous and aggressive defense attorney, or a dog bite victim looking to obtain the damages you are legally entitled to in order to aid your recovery process, our dog bite attorneys offer personalized and effective legal counsel to ensure your rights and interests are fully protected at each stage of your case.
Dog bites pose a frequent and serious health concern in today’s society and are the basis for a significant number of civil suits every year. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, half of which are usually children, and 800,000 of which are serious enough to require medical attention. In 2017 dog bites accounted for one-third of all homeowners’ liability insurance claims, costing in excess of $700 million with an average payout in excess of $35,000.
Just like the rest of the nation, dog bites are a serious issue in Tennessee and are a frequent source of civil liability claims in Tennessee Courts. So much so, in fact, that the Tennessee legislature passed a law for the specific purpose of determining civil liability for injuries caused by dogs.
Dog Bite Law Overview
Generally, the statute requires dog owners to keep their animal under reasonable control at all time, which includes keeping the animal from running at large. Owners who fail in those duties can find themselves liable for any damages suffered by a person who is injured by the animal in either (1) a public place, or (2) while lawfully on private property.
Importantly, in Tennessee, a dog owner can be found liable regardless of whether the dog had ever shown itself to be dangerous. There are several exceptions to that rule, however:
- Where the dog was a policy or military animal performing its duties;
- The injured person was trespassing on the owner’s property;
- The injury occurred while the dog was protecting an innocent person from attack;
- The injury occurred while the dog was contained in a kennel or cage; or
- The injury occurred as a result of the injured person provoking or harassing the dog.
Dog bite litigation is a complex area of law that involves far more than the general overview above and includes a host of legal principles, such as negligence, intentional tort, insurance liability, premises liability, property ownership and others. The complexity of this area of litigation makes proper legal representation necessary for both victims seeking compensation for their injuries, as well as for pet owners whose dog bite someone.
Unsupervised pets can pose a significant hazard to an entire neighborhood. Due to the fact that dog bite injuries and associated pet attacks are largely preventable, owners risk being potentially liable for hefty damages. In Tennessee, owners are legally obligated to:
- Monitor minors
- Secure canines with a leash or restraint
- Supervise interactions with pets
- Provide appropriate barriers
- Warn others of known dangerous characteristics of pets
- Report significant dog bites
Beloved dogs can also double as hazardous watchdogs and attack individuals they perceive as threats. The legal duty for dog owners is to safeguard against unreasonable harm. This entails a bona fide effort to offer protection to unsupervised minors, and other invitees to the property, from potential dog bites. Premises liability statutes pertain to injuries suffered due to known dangers on a property owner’s property and can be very fact-specific and nuanced. Our Clarksville dog bite attorney can assist you in fully understanding these laws, how they apply to your case, and advise you regarding the legal options available to you.
Dog Bites Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should I do if I am bitten by a dog?
If you suffer a dog attack, take the following steps immediately:
- Seek medical attention. This is important not only for the sake of your health, but also for the sake of documenting your injuries for use as evidence later on.
- Get the dog owner’s contact information: name, phone number, and physical address. You can use this information to file a dog bite report with the animal control center, thereby further documenting your claim.
- Get a dog bite lawyer. The odds are you will end up settling with an insurance company after negotiating against trained insurance industry negotiators. A skilled dog bite lawyer will know just how to deal with them.
Can I file a claim for a dog bite that isn’t very severe?
Yes, you can – and it might make a lot of sense if you were traumatized by the event. This is especially likely if the victim was a child, because he might develop a lifelong fear of dogs without expensive counseling. As long as the victim was physically injured, it is possible to recover damages for psychological scarring as well.
What are the most common types of dog bite injuries?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hundreds of thousands of people visit the emergency room every year over dog bites and about half of all victims are children. The following are some of the most common injuries:
- Hand and arm injuries. Protecting your face with your hands might work, but it will probably result in lacerated hands and arms or maybe even worse. Broken bones are even possible.
- Facial disfigurement. A child may stand at the same height as a dog, resulting in facial scarring and disfigurement that could last a lifetime.
- PTSD or phobia. A dog attack is terrifying, especially for a child. In many cases, the emotional scars far outlast the physical injuries of a dog attack. Facial scarring can also result in psychological scarring.
- Infections. A dog’s mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, and tearing the skin removes the human body’s best defense against bacterial infections. Infection is especially likely if you fail to seek treatment immediately; the complications could be disastrous.
- Death. Dog attacks kill a few people every year. Frequent causes of death include bleeding from the neck, brain damage caused by violent shaking (for small children in particular), and being chased into the street in front of an oncoming car.
I was seriously injured, but the dog owner is my next-door neighbor and best friend. Will filing a dog bite claim against him drive him into bankruptcy?
Probably not – at least not if he carries homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. This is because these policies typically cover dog bites. The worst that is likely to happen is that he will have to pay the deductible and suffer an increase in his monthly premiums. Some insurance policies contain unexpected exclusions, however – it might not cover an attack by a pit bull, for example.
How much money am I likely to receive?
That is an impossible question to answer without a thorough understanding of the facts of your particular case. You might be eligible to receive compensation, however, for medical bills, lost earnings (if you missed work due to your injuries), and psychological damages such as pain and suffering. The limits of the dog owner’s insurance policy might provide a practical limitation on your ability to recover damages for a large claim.
Can I win a claim against the landlord of the property where the dog bite occurred?
Not in most cases, but it has been done before. To win, you would have to prove that the landlord was negligent in some way.
Regardless of which side you find yourself on, the experienced Clarksville dog bite lawyer at Batson Nolan are prepared to guide you through your dog bite case and provide the excellent representation you need. As the oldest law office in the State of Tennessee, the litigators at Batson Nolan know exactly how to maximize your potential recovery through quality, aggressive litigation. Call us today.