Memphis Dog Bite Lawyers
Many of us think of dogs as more than just pets – we often see them as family members. Many dog owners are responsible individuals who ensure that their dogs are well trained and well treated. However, not all owners dedicate the same time and care to their pets, and some allow their dogs to run around off-leash. Even worse, when dogs are neglected or mistreated, they can become aggressive toward humans. And sometimes even a well-cared-for dog may attack a person for reasons we humans don’t fully understand.
Dog bites and dog attacks can lead to very serious injuries, leaving victims in severe pain and with significant medical expenses. The law imposes liability on dog owners when their dogs attack and injure people. If you or a loved one has been attacked, bitten, and injured by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation.
In many dog bite and dog attack cases, the dog owner will try to deny or deflect liability for the attack. That is why it is often important for someone injured by a dog bite to have experienced legal representation at their side. In Memphis, many law firms can represent you in your dog bite case. However, you need a firm with experience, resources, and a track record of success of helping clients to successfully pursue compensation for their injuries.
The dog bite attorneys at Gold Law Firm have extensive experience investigating dog attacks to establish the dog owner’s liability and arguing against any defenses that owners may make to avoid liability. Our Tennessee attorneys will aggressively pursue compensation for your injuries and losses; we make sure that you are informed at every step of your claim and understand the expectations for your case. We allow you and your family to focus on your recovery during this difficult time in your life while we fight on your behalf.
Dog Bites: How Often Do They Happen?
The Centers for Disease Control report that approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur across the United States each year, with 800,000 of these attacks resulting in the need for medical care.
The dog breeds that engage in the most attacks on humans include:
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Bull Terrier
- Lhasa Apso
But the breed of the dog is not the determining factor for which dogs are most prone to attack. Most dog attacks involve dogs that are not spayed or neutered, and many are precipitated by owner abuse and neglect. Dogs that are chained up, regardless of breed, commit approximately 25 percent of fatal dog attacks.
Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury?
Tennessee’s dog bite law is more complex than many other states. Tennessee law imposes strict liability on dog owners in certain circumstances but can impose “one-bite” liability in other circumstances.
In Tennessee, a dog owner is strictly liable for injuries and losses arising from their dog’s attack if:
- The dog caused personal injury or property damage, and
- The injured person was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.
Strict liability means that a dog owner is responsible to pay an injured party compensation regardless of fault, such as whether the owner knew the dog had a propensity to become aggressive or violent or whether the owner took reasonable steps to control or restrain their dog.
A dog owner is subject to the “one-bite” rule under Tennessee law if a dog causes injury to a person on private residential, farm, or non-commercial property that is owned, rented, leased, or occupied by the dog owner. If the “one-bite” rule applies, an injured party asserting a legal claim must prove that the dog owner knew or should have reasonably known that the dog would act aggressively. The rule gets its name from the perception that a dog owner knows or should know that their dog has a propensity to act aggressively if it has already committed “one bite.”
Tennessee law does provide statutory defenses to liability for dog bites and attacks. These defenses include:
- Lack of knowledge – Applicable only when the “one-bite” rule applies, lack of knowledge means that a dog owner did not know and could not have known that their dog would act aggressively.
- Provocation – The dog owner argues that the victim provoked the dog into aggressive or violent behavior.
- Trespassing – A dog owner is not liable to an injured party if the injury occurs while the injured party is trespassing or committing a crime or a tort, for example, breaking into a home or assaulting a dog owner, prompting the dog to attack in defense
- Confinement – A dog owner is not liable for a bite or attack if it occurs while the dog is confined in a kennel or cage.
- Working dog behavior – A person injured by a working dog, such as a police dog or a rescue dog, cannot impose liability for injuries inflicted by the working dog “in the line of duty.”
Strict liability and the “one-bite” rule apply to any kind of dog attack, whether a bite, a scratch, or even being knocked over by a charging dog.
Common Injuries from Dog Bites
Dog bites and dog attacks can cause many different kinds of injuries, depending on how you were attacked, the dog’s size and strength, and the length of the attack. However, common injuries that can occur in dog bite and dog attack cases (depending on the severity of the attack) include:
- Puncture wounds
- Eye injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament damage
- Nerve damage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional trauma
- Infection and disease, such as rabies
Dog bites and dog attacks, if severe enough, can leave victims with permanent damage and scarring.
Types of Compensation Available in Dog Bite Cases
When you have a legal claim for injuries suffered from a dog bite or dog attack, you may be entitled to certain kinds of compensation. Compensation for injuries falls into two categories. The first category of compensation is economic damages, which are meant to compensate an injured party for specific financial losses they have suffered due to their injuries. Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses, such as surgical costs, hospital stays, doctor’s office visits, physical and occupational therapy, other therapy, prescription medication, or durable medical equipment like slings or crutches
- Past and future lost income, such as wages lost due to work missed during recovery from injuries and loss of earning capacity caused by one’s injuries
The second category of compensation for injuries is non-economic damages. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are meant to compensate an injured party for more subjective losses. Whereas economic damages are usually calculated from bills, invoices, and paystubs, non-economic damages are determined from a common understanding of the value of such losses. Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering, such as physical and emotional anguish and distress caused by your injuries
- Loss of quality of life, usually caused by injuries or permanent disability from injuries, such as the inability to complete tasks of daily living or participate in activities one enjoyed prior to their injuries
- Loss of consortium, which compensates a spouse or family for the loss of the injured party’s companionship and services to the family and household.
In rare cases, you may be entitled to seek punitive damages, which are typically only awarded in cases where the responsible party acted in an intentional, knowing, or reckless manner that would shock a reasonable person’s conscience.
Finally, you may also be entitled to claim compensation for any property that was damaged, such as clothing or items that were broken in the attack.
Contact Gold Law Firm Today to Speak with a Dog Bite Injury Attorney
Dog bites and dog attacks can range in severity. Many attacks result in nothing more than momentary pain and slight redness or bruising. However, more severe attacks can result in significant injuries, particularly when the victim of the attack is a young child or someone who is unable to defend themselves. These significant injuries may require extensive medical treatment, including reconstructive surgery or surgical or pharmaceutical intervention to fight off infection. Having to deal with the difficulty and trauma of physical and emotional recovery, along with the weight of medical bills and lost income due to missed work, can make it difficult to pursue the compensation to which you are entitled. Having legal representation by your side can take the burden of seeking compensation off your shoulders while you focus on your recovery.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Memphis, don’t wait another day to start the process of seeking the compensation and justice you are entitled to. Contact Gold Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys to learn more about your legal rights and options and how our firm can assist you with pursuing the financial recovery you need and deserve.