Tennessee’s Canine Bite Laws and how to Prove Your Case

Have you received a personal injury from a dog bite? We have all heard stories of people being injured, mauled, or even killed by vicious dogs. This can happen to anyone really at any time. One such case happened in 2006 when Dianna Acklen, a 60 year old grandmother, was killed by 3 large dogs in her neighborhood while she was out for her normal evening walk. The Tennessee state Legislature responded by passing the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007 and this act abolished the “first bite” rule. Previously, a dog owner would not be held responsible for a dog attack if the dog had never attacked anyone in the past. Basically, this meant every dog received one “free bite” under the law. Ridiculous! With this new law, all dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dog, even if it is the first time.

The law in Tennessee now requires all dog owners to:

  • Keep their dogs under reasonable control
  • Keep their dogs from running at large.

Any dog owner who does not follow this law will be subject to “civil liability for damages suffered by anyone injured by the dog while in public or legally on the private property of another”. The law does have a few exceptions:

  • The dog bite law does not apply to a military or police dog in the performance of its official duties
  • The dog bite law does not apply if the injured person was trespassing upon the private, nonresidential property of the dog’s owner
  • The dog bite law does not apply if the injury occurred while the dog was protecting the dog’s owner or other innocent party from attack by the injured person or a dog owned by the injured person
  • The dog bite law does not apply if the injury occurred while the dog was securely confined in a crate, kennel or other enclosure
  • The dog bite law does not apply if the injury occurred as a result of the injured person enticing, disturbing, alarming, harassing, or otherwise provoking the dog.

These are reasonable exceptions but the largest exception is the “residential exception”. This states that if the dog hurts someone while that person is on the residential, farm, or non-commercial property of the dog owner, then liability doesn’t attach UNLESS the victim can somehow prove that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous. In summary, this exception is sort of the same as the old free bite rule.

Knoxville, TN Personal Injury and Dog Bite Lawyers

In any case involving a dog bite, there might be reasonable and valid claims for negligence and at Bill Hotz and Associates, we have handled cases like this many times in the past. If you or your loved one have a personal injury caused by a dog bite, call Knoxville, Tennessee’s best personal injury lawyers today. We provide free, no cost consultations and as always, we don’t get paid unless you get paid.