Sevierville Personal Injury Lawyers Uphold the Rights of People Attacked by Animals

Handling claims involving dog bites and other attacks in and around Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg

When we were kids, our parents warned us not to touch stray animals, lest we get bitten and develop rabies. As adults, we offered our own kids a slightly modified version of that warning: never touch any animal unless you’ve been granted permission by its owner. Yet every day, people are attacked by animals and bitten by family pets, sometimes without any warning at all.

When that happens, you have options for moving forward. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we help victims of dog bites, cat scratches and other animal attacks obtain the compensation they need in order to recover from their injuries and protect their families. We are a team of Sevierville personal injury lawyers helping clients in the surrounding areas, including in Pigeon Forge and in Gatlinburg, get their lives back on track after a devastating injury. If you were attacked by an animal in Tennessee, we can and will protect your rights.

Tennessee laws regarding animal attacks

Tennessee dog bite law is as follows:

“The owner of a dog has a duty to keep that dog under reasonable control at all times, and to keep that dog from running at large. A person who breaches that duty is subject to civil liability for any damages suffered by a person who is injured by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in or on the private property of another. The owner may be held liable regardless of whether the dog has shown any dangerous propensities or whether the dog’s owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities.”

What this means, in layman’s terms, is that Tennessee follows strict liability when it comes to dog bites (with certain exceptions), meaning that an owner can and will be held responsible for any damage a dog causes to a person or piece of property. Even if your dog has never bitten someone before, you could be held liable of Fido takes a chomp out of the mailman’s hand for no apparent reason one day.

That being said, there are a few exceptions to the law, such as if:

  1. “The dog is a police or military dog, the injury occurred during the course of the dog’s official duties and the person injured was a party to, a participant in or suspected of being a party to or participant in the act or conduct that prompted the police or military to utilize the services of the dog;
  2. The injured person was trespassing upon the private, nonresidential property of the dog’s owner;
  3. The injury occurred while the dog was protecting the dog’s owner or other innocent party from attack by the injured person or a dog owned by the injured person;
  4. The injury occurred while the dog was securely confined in a kennel, crate or other enclosure; or
  5. The injury occurred as a result of the injured person enticing, disturbing, alarming, harassing, or otherwise provoking the dog.”

In other words, if you stick your fingers through a neighbor’s gate, or try to pet a dog at the local pound (despite warnings not to), or hop someone’s fence in order to retrieve a lost baseball, then the law is not on your side.

However, if your neighbor’s dog gets loose and bites you or your child (known by the legal term of “running at large”), or if you were in someone’s home and the dog suddenly attacked you unprovoked, then you may have a strong claim for compensation against that neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance for any medical treatments, lost wages or pain and suffering that you endure. However, you “shall be required to establish that the dog’s owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities.” Establishing this evidence can be a challenge, so hiring an experienced Sevierville dog bite attorney is a smart first step for you to take.

Cats, livestock, exotic pets and wild animals

Tennessee law goes into great detail regarding damages caused by livestock – including confinement regulations for “notoriously mischievous stock” – but does not have specific rules regarding exotic pets or even cats. However, a cat scratch or bite can lead to a disease which, left untreated, can have serious complications. You may be able to make a claim against an owner’s homeowner’s insurance to cover your bills if you are bitten or scratched by a pet cat.

Wild animals, however, are a different story altogether. Here in Sevierville, our animal attack attorneys field calls from residents and tourists who were hurt by animals while visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is important to note that being attacked by an animal while you are camping is one of the risks you take by being in the Park. If you provoke a wild animal in any way, the Park will not assume liability for your injuries. There are warning signs posted clearly around the Park and on their website, letting visitors know about potential risks. The rules can change drastically if you are injured by a wild animal at a local zoo or attraction, however, so it is vital that you contact one of our Sevierville animal attack lawyer right away if you have suffered an injury. We will inform you of your rights and give you an honest assessment of your case, so that you have options for moving forward.

Bitten by a dog? Let Delius & McKenzie, PLLC help

A dog bite can have long-lasting repercussions. In some cases, the bite may even prove fatal. Delius & McKenzie, PLLC proudly stands up for the rights of animal attack victims in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and throughout Tennessee. To speak with a Sevierville premises liability attorney about your experience, please call 865-428-8780 or fill out our contact form. We promise to fight for you.