aggressive-unleashed-dog-going-toward-childTennessee has a strict liability dog bite statute known as the Diana Acklen Act that can help dog bite victims recover compensation for their injuries. At GriffithLaw, our experienced Nashville dog bite lawyers can help you understand how this law could impact your potential claim so you get the compensation and justice you deserve if you've been hurt by a dog in Tennessee.

Dog Owner Liability

The Diana Acklen Act establishes that dog owners can be held liable if their dog attacks or bites someone. Unlike negligence claims, where the victim must prove the owner did something wrong, Tennessee's dog bite statute creates strict liability for the owner. This means the owner is responsible regardless of whether they knew the dog had aggressive tendencies. Dog owners who fail to confine and control their dogs properly are liable if their dogs hurt others. 

Specifically, the Diana Acklen Act states that owners can be held liable if the dog is not kept in an enclosure or under reasonable control. Reasonable control generally means the dog was on a leash, behind a fence, or under the supervision and command of the owner. If the dog was freely roaming with no restraints, the owner violated this law.

No Knowledge of Vicious Propensities Needed

Tennessee dog bite victims do not have to prove the owner knew or should have known the dog had a history of aggression. This differs from a common law negligence claim where proving such knowledge would be required. The strict liability standard eliminates that burden for dog bite plaintiffs. If the dog was unrestrained when the attack occurred, the Tennessee dog bite law has been violated regardless of past incidents or warnings.

Exceptions to the Diana Acklen Act

There are a few exceptions to the Diana Acklen Act, such as the following:

The Residential Exclusion

The law does not apply if the dog attack occurred on the owner's property where the dog lives. This includes the house, yard, driveway, and other areas.


An owner may not be liable if the injured person was tormenting or provoking the dog and the dog reacted in a foreseeable way to defend itself.  


If the injured person was trespassing on the owner's property when the incident happened, the owner may be able to avoid liability under the Diana Acklen Act.

Police or Military Dogs

The law does not apply to properly trained police dogs or military dogs assisting police or military personnel in their official duties.

agressive-unleashed-dog-toward-childThese limitations mean dog bite victims may need to pursue negligence claims in some situations if the Diana Acklen Act does not apply. An experienced Tennessee dog bite attorney at GriffithLaw can advise you on the best legal strategies for your case.

Proving Your Dog Bite Injury Claim

To successfully use the Diana Acklen Act for your dog bite injury claim, you need to prove that:

  • The dog's owner failed to confine or control the dog properly
  • You were bitten, attacked, or chased by the dog
  • You sustained injuries 
  • The owner's irresponsible actions directly caused your damages

Potential Damages in a Dog Attack Case

If you prove a dog owner is liable for your injuries, you could recover the following damages:

  • Medical expenses to treat bite wounds, scarring, infections, broken bones, and other injuries
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages for time missed from work
  • Disability or disfigurement 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property losses if your clothing, bags, shoes, etc. were damaged

An experienced Tennessee dog bite lawyer can thoroughly investigate your claim and fight for full compensation allowed by law.

Choosing the Right Dog Bite Lawyer

The legal team at GriffithLaw has in-depth experience handling Tennessee dog attack cases under the Diana Acklen Act and through negligence claims when necessary. Our knowledgeable attorneys have a proven track record of successfully securing favorable settlements and trial verdicts for dog bite victims. We have the resources to handle your case, from preserving evidence to negotiating with insurance companies.