Were you the victim of a dog attack?
Dogs can inflict severe harm. Whether a dog bites you, knocks you down, or causes severe lacerations, a dog bite or attack usually requires immediate medical attention. A dog bite can put you at risk for rabies or an infection, it can require stitches and leave scars, and it can leave you with emotional scars, as well. A dog attack almost always is a shock, and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon in these cases.
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. The caring and compassionate attorneys at Bill Easterly & Associates can help relieve your financial burden by securing compensation that will cover your medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Having represented numerous dog bite cases, our attorneys know that, in some cases, the owner of the dog that bit you is a family member or friend, and you understandably may feel uncomfortable pursuing compensation.
It’s important for you to know that in almost all dog bite cases, it is the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policy that will cover the compensation you deserve. To that end, we will work skillfully and persistently with the insurance adjuster to get the full financial reward you need to move forward and live your life again.
Don’t hesitate to call Bill Easterly & Associates at (615) 244-2222 today. One of our Nashville personal injury lawyers will be happy to meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We’re here to help.
Begin Building Your Case Immediately
If someone’s dog bites you and you suffer injuries, you shouldn’t wait long before beginning to build your case. You can start at the attack scene by taking a photo of the dog, your visible injuries, and other relevant evidence.
Follow these steps below to ensure you’re able to recover a monetary award from the dog owner:
- Call 911. If you’re seriously hurt, calling 911 will bring medical emergency responders, and the police can also help to quarantine the dog.
- Secure the dog. If possible, keep the animal confined to one area so it can’t hurt anyone else. If the owner is nearby, notify them of what happened.
- Obtain information from the owner. Write down the name of the dog owner, their contact information, and details about their dog, such as age, breed, date of its last vaccinations, etc.
- Complete an incident report. If the attack happened in a public place, notify the owner or manager and ask to fill out an incident report. Get a copy of it and also request the name of their liability insurance company. It is also always a good idea to report the incident to animal control. If the animal has a history of biting people, it shouldn’t be in the owner’s possession.
- Seek medical attention. Dogs can carry rabies, bacteria, and diseases that they pass along to humans. If you didn’t receive emergency medical attention, then it’s crucial that you see a doctor to treat your wounds to minimize the risk of infection.
- File a claim. Whether the incident occurred on private or public property, you could file a claim with the owner’s liability insurance company for compensation.
- Hire a lawyer. Speak to a Nashville dog bite lawyer from Bill Easterly & Associates. We’ll provide you with the necessary legal representation and recover the maximum financial award you deserve.
Dog Bite Laws in Tennessee
There are state laws and statutes that apply to animal attacks and dog bites. Specifically, when a dog bites a person, the owner could be held financially liable for any injuries it causes.
Tennessee law imposes a combination of one bite liability and strict liability. The one-bite rule applies when the bite occurs at a private residence, commercial property, or farm that the dog’s owner leases, rents, or occupies with permission, and states that the owner must know or should have known that their dog would exhibit aggressive behavior.
Strict liability applies when the bite occurs in a public place or a third party’s private property. Per Tennessee law, an injured person can hold the dog owner strictly liable if:
- The dog caused the injured party’s injuries or damaged personal property
- The injured party was in a public space or legally on private property
The victim may alternatively be able to prove negligence on the dog owner’s part. That means you must show one of the following:
- The owner is liable for injuries their dog inflicted due to their negligent actions;
- The animal was in a place they shouldn’t have been; or
- It was known that the dog had vicious propensities or tendencies.
Laws for dog bites and attacks are complex and confusing. Every state, city, and municipality has its own set of rules. If you don’t know the legalities in Nashville, you should contact Bill Easterly & Associates and speak with one of our Nashville dog bite attorneys.
We understand the various statutes that determine liability in this type of situation. We’ll ensure the owner faces the consequences of their actions, and you receive compensation for the suffering you endured.
Common Injuries Associated With Dog Bites
Most insurance claims are based on bodily harm inflicted by the dog bite. Property damage doesn’t happen as often, but sometimes a personal item can break during the attack. Depending on the severity of the incident, you could suffer minor or life-threatening injuries. More severe physical trauma can sometimes lead to permanent medical conditions or even death.
The most common injuries people sustain after a dog bite include:
- Traumatic brain injury from being knocked down
- Torn tissue or muscle
- Damaged nerves
- Lacerations and puncture wounds
- Rabies or tetanus
- Broken bones
Going to the doctor is necessary after all the injuries listed above. Some people require lifelong treatment to manage ongoing pain or deal with an animal attack’s psychological effects. Medical bills can be expensive and add up after a while, especially if you need consistent, ongoing care. Those costs should not be your responsibility. Your Nashville dog bite attorney will determine liability and where to obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Factors Contributing to Compensation in a Dog Bite Case
If you choose to file an insurance claim with the at-fault dog owner’s liability insurance company, the settlement you receive will depend on various elements. Generally speaking, the more severe the injury, the higher the compensation.
If you only sustained a small wound and made a full recovery within a week, you likely wouldn’t receive much money, if anything at all. Conversely, if you end up with a permanent disability from the attack, you could likely pursue the maximum settlement amount available.
Examples of factors that could lead to a higher insurance settlement include:
- Longer duration of necessary medical treatment
- Permanent disfigurement, impairment, or disability resulted from the attack
- High total expenses
- Doctor-prescribed medications to manage pain or symptoms
- Significant effect on the quality of life
- Unable to work due to the injury
Examples of factors that could lead to a lower insurance settlement include:
- Full recovery made after the injury
- Most doctor appointments were for evaluation rather than actual treatment of the injury
- No emotional or psychological trauma experienced
- Total costs are low
- The attack did not lead to diminished quality of life
- Prescription medication wasn’t necessary
- Minimal pain or complications occurred
Your Nashville dog bite injury attorney will review all the details of your case and advise you on the settlement amount you should pursue. We understand the factors of a case that can increase its value and make you eligible for more significant compensation. Even if the injury wasn’t that serious, you still shouldn’t have to pay for your own costs. We’ll be sure to calculate the right amount that covers all your expenses and compensates for your physical or emotional damage.
Determining the Available Damages After Suffering From A Dog Bite
You’re entitled to financial compensation if another person’s dog bites you in Nashville, as long as the incident meets all the elements of the one-bite rule or strict liability. To determine an appropriate value, insurance companies will look at the damages the victim incurred. Damages include two separate subcategories: economic, or actual expenses, and non-economic, or intangible losses.
Economic damages in a dog bite case may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out of pocket expenses
- Property damage
Non-economic damages in a dog bite case may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Calculating damages is challenging, especially when it comes to non-economic damages. Determining the right value for something like emotional distress depends on the contributing factors of an insurance settlement mentioned earlier. Insurance companies will usually look at all those factors as a whole to come up with the appropriate amount to offer. More severe injuries can result in higher settlements, while minor injuries can lead to lower settlements.
Filing A Civil Lawsuit After a Dog Bite
You could sue the dog owner directly if negligence existed at the time of the incident. Negligence is the legal theory that one party’s failure to provide a reasonable degree of care to another led to their injuries. There are five elements you must show to prove negligence successfully:
- Duty: The at-fault party owed you a duty of care;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty;
- Cause in fact: If it weren’t for their action or inaction, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
- Proximate cause: Their breach was the direct cause of your injury; and
- Damages: The event resulted in damages.
There’s a statute of limitations you have to comply with if you want to file a lawsuit. This is a strict deadline, and if you miss it, you’ll lose your right to seek compensation for this matter. The statute of limitations in Tennessee is one year for injury to a person and three years for personal property damage.
When you file a lawsuit, another type of damage might be available. Punitive damages aren’t a form of compensation. They punish the at-fault party for their actions and aim to deter similar misconduct in the future. For a jury to determine that you deserve punitive damages, you must provide clear and convincing evidence that the dog owner acted with intentional fraud, malice, or recklessness.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With Bill Easterly & Associates
Our Nashville dog bite attorneys will fight persistently for the justice you deserve. When another person is the reason you suffered harm, they should face the consequences. We have over 25 years of experience helping our clients recover the compensation they need to heal. We know you’ve experienced something traumatic, and we will work diligently to reach a favorable outcome in your case.
We care about our clients. You can expect one-on-one attention, legal guidance, and emotional support from start to finish. We’re available 24/7 to answer your call and be there when you need us the most. At Bill Easterly & Associates, we have a dedicated team of Nashville dog bite lawyers who will remain by your side until the very end. Call us at (615) 244-2222 to schedule your free initial consultation if you were the victim of a dog bite.