Nashville Dog Bite Lawyer
Medical science has advanced considerably in recent years, especially in the area of dog bite injuries. Since doctors better understand these injuries today, the average animal attack settlement has increased considerably since the early 2000s. These physical and emotional injuries are usually catastrophic and permanent.
Types of Dog Bite Injuries
A dog attack can result in life-changing injuries for dog bite victims. If you or a loved one suffers from any of these injuries, reach out to your trusted Nashville dog bite attorney to get the compensation you deserve.
One of the most common injuries resulting from a dog bite is broken or fractured bones. Dog bite victims who suffer a fractured bone usually end up breaking bones in the face, hands, or feet. These are the most common areas dogs bite, and since the feet, hands, and face consist of delicate bones, they are easily crushed when the dog bites down. Not only do these fractures impair functionality but can alter your appearance and you will most likely need surgery to repair the damaged areas.
Not only do the feet, hands, and face areas have delicate bones, but the ligaments and tendons are closer to the skin. Since these are the most common areas of the body injured in a dog attack, many victims suffer torn ligaments and tendons.
Another serious dog bite injury is known as an avulsion injury. This occurs when a dog bite results in chunks of tissue and ligaments being torn away from the body. Usually, when an avulsion occurs, the dog has bitten through the three levels of a victim’s skin causing severe lacerations and increasing the chance of infection. Some long-term effects of avulsions include mobility issues, loss of muscle function, and severe scarring.
Dog bites can also result in severe nerve damage. If a dog bites a victim in a certain way, individual nerves and nerve networks can be disrupted. This can lead to loss of muscle function, and the sense of tingling and numbness in the affected area.
Dog bites leading to amputations are unlikely but they do occur. Dog bites victims can lose fingers, toes, feet, arms, and legs if the body part was severely mangled or if an infection sets in the damaged area and cannot be cured.
If a dog attack is severe enough, it can be fatal, especially if the dog attacks the face and neck area. Since children and the elderly are less likely able to defend themselves, they are more likely to succumb to their injuries.
The diligent Nashville dog bite lawyers at Mitch Grissim & Associates work hard to obtain the compensation these victims need and deserve. Animal attack survivors need money to pay medical bills and otherwise carry on with their lives. Furthermore, these victims need closure. So, we build solid claims and do not give up until we obtain the best possible results under the circumstances.
Dog bite laws in most states try to strike a balance between the rights of injured victims and the rights of pet owners. So, these laws are often complex, and Tennessee is a good example. Multiple options are available and they each have some pros and cons.
Tennessee pet owners are strictly liable for damages if the owner fails to properly control the animal and it attacks someone. Legally, a dog is running at large if it “goes uncontrolled by the dog’s owner upon the premises of another without the consent of the owner of the premises, or other person authorized to give consent, or goes uncontrolled by the owner upon a highway, public road, street or any other place open to the public generally.”
The law includes a residential exception. Guests are entitled to compensation under the strict liability law, but not family members.
Strict liability claims are relatively easy to prove in court. Provocation, which is outlined below, is the only effective defense. However, some pet owner jurors often believe strict liability laws are essentially financial penalties for pet ownership.
Other claims rely on scienter (knowledge). Owners are liable for damages regardless of the control they exert over the animal if it attacks someone and the owner knew the dog was potentially vicious. The “knowledge” element is defined in broad, victim-friendly ways. Evidence of knowledge includes:
- Animal’s mischievous pre-bite behavior
- Aggressive barking
- Vicious growling
- Previous attacks
Victims must establish knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in the Volunteer State.
Scienter claims are only available in limited situations. But even pet owner jurors are usually included to compensate these victims.
Finally, ordinary negligence and negligence per se could be available. Ordinary negligence is a lack of care, and negligence per se is a violation of safety law. Both these doctrines usually involve a failure to properly restrain or control an animal.
Insurance Company Defenses
As mentioned, the provocation defense, which is an offshoot of contributory negligence, is available in all dog bite claims. Provocation is an intentional and physical act. In Tennessee, victims cannot accidentally provoke dogs by making loud noises or sudden moves. Furthermore, aggressive teasing usually is not provocation. Instead, “provocation” is practically synonymous with “torture.”
The assumption of the risk defense sometimes comes up in negligence and scienter claims. Victims are legally and financially responsible for their own injuries if they voluntarily assume a known risk.
Contrary to popular myth, a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign does not immunize owners. They must still prove that the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant.
Contact a Dedicated Davidson County Dog Bite Lawyer
Animal attack victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Nashville, contact Mitch Grissim & Associates. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.