Dog Bite Injuries and Tennessee Law

When it comes to dog bite injuries, Tennessee has complicated dog bite laws that can either impose strict liability or, what is referred to, the “one bite” liability on owners.

People who have dog bite injuries in Tennessee have one year to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dog. In most cases, one year begins on the date of the injury and closes one calendar year later. There are some exceptions and it’s important to speak to an attorney to see if any of the exceptions, which are rare, may apply.

Tennessee’s dog bite law imposes a mix of strict liability and “one bite” liability depending on the facts of the case and it also lists several defenses available to dog owners.

Tennessee allows a person with dog bite injuries to hold a dog’s owner strictly liable if the dog caused the person’s injury or damage to the person’s property, and the injured person was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.

The dog’s owner is liable without any showing of fault — in other words, regardless of whether the owner knew the dog would act aggressively — unless one of the defenses is raised.

However, it does not apply to injuries dogs cause to people who are on private property that the dog’s owner owns, rents, leases, or is occupying with the owner’s permission. In these situations, the “one bite” rule applies, which means that the injured person must show that the dog’s owner knew, or should reasonably have known, that the dog would act aggressively in order to hold the owner liable for damages.

Are you not sure whether you have a dog bite injury case? Contact us to discuss it further and find out.