Like many neighborhoods in Tennessee, Oakville has its share of dogs. Dog owners are responsible for keeping their canine companions under control and ensuring the people of Oakville can walk around without fear of being bitten or attacked. Should you be a victim of a dog attack or bite, you deserve compensation for your injuries and distress.
An Oakville personal injury lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC will fight to get you the settlement you deserve.
Dog Bite Laws in Oakville Tennessee
Tennessee Code §44-8-413 holds dog owners legally responsible for keeping their dogs under reasonable control at all times and from “running at large.”
A dog runs at large when it is uncontrolled and enters someone else’s property without permission or when it is uncontrolled in a place available to the public, including highways and streets.
Dog owners who do not fulfill their legal responsibilities may be required to pay damages to those their dog has injured. To collect compensation, victims must have been injured while in a public place or while on the dog owner’s property lawfully.
Defining Dog “Owners”
The dog’s owner, according to the statute, is the person who “at the time of the damage caused to another regularly harbors, keeps or exercises control over the dog.” If the bite occurs while the dog is under the temporary care of a dogsitter or walker, that person cannot be held liable.
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One-Bite Rule vs. Strict Liability
In Tennessee, a dog bite claim may fall under the one-bite rule, also known as the “residential exception,” or strict liability. The circumstances of the bite are important to the claim, making it essential to consult with a lawyer experienced in dog bite cases before filing.
The One-Bite Rule
In decades past, most states followed the one-bite rule. Owners were only held responsible for dog-bite injuries if they had reasonable knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite. In other words, a dog (and its owner) had one “free bite” before the owner could face legal action from a victim.
Tennessee law now only upholds the one-bite rule, or residential exception, if the bite occurs on the dog owner’s property, such as their private residence, farm, or on the premises of a non-commercial property the dog owner rents, or leases, or otherwise occupies legally, and the victim is on that property lawfully.
When dog bites occur on the owner’s property, victims must prove the dog owner knew or should have known of their animal’s dangerous tendencies.
Under Tennessee’s strict liability rules, dog owners can be held culpable for dog bites even if they did not have reasonable knowledge of the dog’s dangerous tendencies. Failure to keep the dog under control subjects them to civil liability.
There are exceptions protecting dog owners from strict liability:
- The bite victim was on the dog owner’s property unlawfully
- The bite victim antagonized or harassed the dog
- The dog was in a confined space, such as a kennel or enclosure, when the bite occurred.
- The dog was working as part of a police, emergency, military or similar team.
- The dog was protecting its owner or another innocent person when the bite occurred.
Tennessee Code does not just apply to dog bites, but to any injuries or damages suffered because of the dog’s behavior. If you are knocked down by an aggressive dog and sustain injuries as a result, you can file a claim for those injuries.
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Steps to Take Following a Dog Attack
Following a dog bite or attack, you can take proactive steps for your health and your injury claim.
Seek medical care. If the attack or bite is especially brutal, you may require emergency medical attention. Even if the bite is not severe, it can lead to infection or a worsening injury if left untreated. Seeing a doctor soon after your injury will also support your claim.
If you can, take pictures of your injuries, the dog, the environment, and anything else relevant to the incident. Keep your bloodied or torn clothes or other evidence of the attack. Collect contact information from the dog’s owner as well as any witnesses. These witnesses may also have photo or video evidence.
Tennessee does not legally require victims to report dog bites. However, reporting the bite to police or Oakville animal control is a wise option. If the dog owner is irresponsible or the dog is truly dangerous or being mistreated, an investigation will protect others from attacks. Your report will also support your personal injury claim.
Call a Dog Bite Lawyer in Oakville
Dog Bite laws in Oakville are not entirely straightforward. To ensure you file correctly and within the one-year statute of limitations and that you receive the highest compensation possible, have an Oakville dog bite attorney from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu, and Montesi PLC manage your case.
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Damages You Can Recover Through a Dog Bite Claim
Your lawyer will consider all aspects of your situation to determine the amount of a fair settlement. The severity of the attack and subsequent injuries are major factors in this determination. Though every case is unique, most personal injury settlements cover both economic and non-economic damages.
Quantifiable financial losses are economic damages. They include medical expenses for surgeries, treatments, or other interventions your injuries require. Dog attacks can be serious, causing nerve and muscle damage, lacerations, disfigurements, and even head trauma and broken bones if you are knocked down in the incident.
If you miss work because of your injuries, your lawyer will seek recovery of lost wages. If you sustained property damage in the attack, you can also seek compensation for its repair or replacement.
Emotional and psychological trauma is difficult to measure but still demands acknowledgment. Dog attacks can bring extreme emotional distress, as can the effects of your injuries.
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Now Is the Time to Contact a Dog Bite Attorney in Oakville
You have only one year to file your injury claim after a dog bite. Consult with an Oakville dog bite lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu, and Montesi PLC as soon as possible after your attack so you meet that deadline.
Scheduling a consultation is easy and completely free. We will manage your case with compassion and expertise, collecting no payment until you have secured fair compensation.