When we think about dogs, we normally imagine our pets, the dogs we have adopted into our families. Most dog owners would never even consider that their dogs may be dangerous to others.
Unfortunately, not all dogs are friendly, and dog bites, though rare, do happen. A dog bite can be very dangerous, leaving victims severely injured and psychologically traumatized. When the attack involves a small child, these injuries can be compounded. If you or someone you know has sustained a personal injury due to a dog bite, you may want to contact a dog bite attorney.
Knoxville Child Bitten by Dog
Recently, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a two year-old girl sustained severe injuries after having a portion of her face bitten off by her babysitter’s dog. The child’s mother was picking the child up from the babysitter’s residence when the incident occurred. The babysitter’s dog had been locked in a separate room and the mother asked the babysitter to let the dog out to play with her daughter. The babysitter initially refused, asserting that the dog was not friendly towards children, but the mother insisted. The child and dog were sitting on the floor when the dog bit the child. According to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, this is the second time since October that deputies responded to a call about the same dog biting a young child.
As with many dog bites, criminal charges may be brought; however, criminal charges only remedy public violations and do not compensate a victim’s injuries.
The Dianna Acklen Act of 2007
Civil remedies for dog bite cases fall under the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007, T.C.A. 44-8-413, which combines the one-bite rule and strict liability depending on the location and circumstances of the dog bite. Under the one-bite rule, liability will attach only if the victim can prove the dog’s owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities–has the dog bitten or attacked someone previously? Prior to 2007, Tennessee was a pure one-bite rule state. That changed in 2007 when Tennessee signed the Dianna Acklen Act into law. Dianna Acklen was a 60 year old grandmother who was killed by 3 large dogs while walking in a park.
The 2007 act added a requirement for dog owners to keep their dogs under reasonable control while on public property or the private property of another. If the dog bite happens under these circumstances, strict liability will apply, and the victim does not have to prove the dog had a propensity for violence. It should be noted that there are notable exceptions to the strict liability under certain circumstances where the dog is a police or military dog, the injured person was trespassing, the dog was protecting the owner, the dog was securely confined, or the injured person provoked the dog.
The Tennessee act did maintain the one-bite rule under a “residential exclusion.” The residential exclusion retains the first-bite rule and requires the victim to prove a propensity for violence if the incident happened on a “residential, farm or other noncommercial property that the dog owner owned, leased, [or] rented.”
Application of the Law
In cases like the recent Knox county dog bite, a dog bite that occurs while on the property of the owner would fall under the residential exclusion and the one-bite rule would apply. Normally, dog bites happen on the owner’s property. The child, victim would have to prove the dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensity with evidence like police records of previous attacks.
What a Dog Bite Victim Should Do
Our thoughts are with the child in Knoxville and her recovery. Dog bites can cause physical and financial difficulties. We all hope that dog bites would not happen to children, but when they do, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to gather evidence related to the incident and can review all the elements of the case. You are encouraged to contact a local personal injury attorney with experience handling dog bite cases.
If you have been involved in an accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.
Police cite owner of dog that ripped child’s face, Nov. 21, 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel
Dianna Acklen Act of 2007, 2012, Tennessee Code
More Blog Entries:
New Car Seat Rules Aim to Protect Kids from Injury in Knoxville Car Accidents, Feb. 28, 2013, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog
Tragic Tennessee Dog Attack Highlights Owner’s Residential Liability, Oct. 12, 2012, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog