According to the American Humane Association, every year an estimated 4.7 million people are injured as a result of dog bites, some of these cases even prove to be fatal. In response to this alarming number of preventable injuries, the Tennessee legislature has begun to rethink their dog bite laws. In fact, in 2007, after a multi-dog attack fatally wounded a 60-year-old woman, the legislature decided that laws needed a complete revision and passed an updated set of dog bite laws—revised again in 2015—that discounts the “first bite rule” in favor of circumstantial liability.
What Does This Mean for You?
The assumption under a "first bite rule" is that a dog owner cannot be held liable the first time the dog bites someone because there is no prior knowledge of the dog's aggressiveness. However, most states have rejected this rule and will hold dog owner's accountable for a dog's first attack. The revised law means that when you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a dog bite:
- You may be entitled to compensation whether or not it was the first time that dog showed aggression.
- You have one year to file an injury claim.
- You will have to be careful about how you respond to the attack in order to secure a strong injury claim against the dog’s owner.
Caring for the Bite While Securing Your Claim
When you’re unable to subdue an aggressive dog and wind up suffering severe bite injuries, you’re entitled to injury compensation from his owner. However, there are several actions you must take after the incident to not only avoid further injury but to also protect your claim. These actions include:
- Withdrawing to a safe place. The first thing you must do is increase your distance from the aggressive dog to prevent further attack and injury.
- Treating the wound. When a bite breaks the skin and causes excessive bleeding, you should keep the area elevated to limit blood loss. If possible, wash the wound with tap water to remove debris and saliva.
- Securing emergency care. Depending on the severity of the bite, you may need to call an ambulance as professional help may be required to treat your injuries.
- Identifying the dog. Before leaving the scene of the attack, try to identify the dog, where he came from, who he belongs to, and where he lives.
- Gathering personal information from the owner. Record the owner’s name, address, and phone number. Ask the owner for the dog’s license information and question him about any prior incidents in which the dog may have been involved.
- Seeking medical care. Always seek medical care after a dog bite. Since bites tend to break the skin, the attacking dog’s saliva can easily make its way into your bloodstream and cause infections.
- Photographing injuries. If possible, document your injuries and any damage by taking pictures of the wounds, where they took place, and any other results of the attack. These photographs can be used as evidence in your case and help illustrate the extent of the attack.
- Filing a report. Once you’ve been treated, file a report of the incident with your city or county animal control or sheriff’s department. This report can be used as evidence in your claim as well as provides documentation of the dog’s aggression.
- Contact an attorney. The best way to guarantee that your claim is just as vigorous as the dog who attacked you is to secure a respectable dog injury lawyer.
Considering the complexities and restrictions of Tennessee dog bite laws, a local and well-respected lawyer can help you understand and fight for your rights. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, contact GriffithLaw today at 877-959-8847 to see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.