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KENTUCKY & TENNESSEE
DOG BITE INJURY LAWYER

CONTROL STARTS WITH A CALL.

A dog can be a man’s best friend. But for various reasons, sometimes dogs bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4.5 million people become dog bite victims every year in the United States. At least half of these victims of dog bites are children, which are more likely to suffer serious injuries. Tragically, dog bite fatalities sometimes occur. If you’ve been injured by a dog bite, call Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers today at 800-800-4600 for a free case evaluation. Control Starts With a Call.

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DOG BITE STATISTICS

WHY DO DOGS BITE?

Dog bites do not happen out of nowhere. There are several situations in which a dog might decide that biting is the best course of action. Unfortunately, many people fail to notice the indicators that a bite may occur. Before biting, most dogs will attempt to express their unhappiness by barking, growling, or snapping at the air. But what really leads to a dog bite?

FEAR

The majority of canine aggression has some element of fear at its core. A dog could be afraid of something or someone encroaching on their territory. Dogs can become overpowered or “over threshold” and may bite in response when whatever they are fearful of approaches too closely. When a dog bites out of fear, they are typically attempting to get away from anything or anyone they are afraid of.

FRUSTRATION

Dogs who feel stuck in an uncomfortable or unpleasant environment may bite out of frustration. Dogs may experience frustration if they are restrained by their owner or a leash and unable to get what they desire. Dogs may turn and bite at whatever or whoever is restraining them. This behavior is also referred to as redirection or a redirected bite.

STARTLED

Dogs, particularly those that have been sleeping, can bite if awakened. A shocked dog may become disoriented, uncertain of their surroundings and unaware of what is happening, which could make them aggressive. These bites could surprise both people and the dog. This is especially prevalent in senior dogs, who may have diminished hearing and/or sight and may be especially perplexed if jolted awake.

PAIN

For dogs, getting sick or hurt can be incredibly stressful, frightening, and overwhelming. Even the most patient dogs have been known to bite when they are hurt or uncomfortable. If your dog is hurt, you should be especially careful if you need to lift or transport them since they might bite when handled.

PROTECTING AND GUARDING

If your dog has something valuable like toys, food, or chews that they don’t want to share, they may bite out of fear that the valuable thing will be taken away. Biting to protect valuable items can happen as part of resource guarding behavior. Regardless of breed, some dogs may have strong guarding tendencies, and can resort to biting if they perceive their home is being intruded upon, or if they believe someone in their family is in danger (regardless of if that danger is real.)

PLAY

This is a common sort of biting that isn’t always thought about. Dogs frequently investigate their environment by lightly biting or mouthing, and they also do this while they are having fun. Although it is typically not very nice for us, it is a normal aspect of how dogs interact with one another and, of course, their toys. Dog bites can happen without violent intent, so dog owners should be attentive in these cases as well.

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THE MOST DANGEROUS AND HIGH-RISK SITUATIONS FOR DOG BITES

  • Leaving an infant or toddler unattended with any breed of dog.
  • New or temporary living situations involving children and dangerous dog breeds.
  • Any dog with a history of aggression in a household with children.
  • Approaching a chained dog, especially if it is male and unaltered.
  • Encountering a pack of loose dogs, familiar or unfamiliar to you.
  • Inserting yourself into a dogfight, especially when fighting breeds are involved.
  • Approaching a vehicle with a dog inside (or in the bed of a truck).
  • Passing a pit bull on the street with your child or leashed dog.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DOG BITES?

When evaluating dog bites that result in personal injury, dog behavior experts and behaviorists use a scale. The most commonly used reference is Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale, which breaks dog bites into six categories:

LEVEL 1: AGGRESSIVE BUT NO SKIN CONTACT

There is typically no actual harm done, just an aggressive display that includes biting at the air and grunting, or baring their teeth and snarling. Level 1 would also apply if the dog snaps and bites your clothing without inflicting any harm to your flesh.

LEVEL 2: TEETH MAKE CONTACT, BUT DO NOT BREAK THE SKIN

The victim of this form of biting can have teeth marks, but there won’t be any skin perforations. In these situations, the dog is conveying a very clear message that it is under stress of some kind. Additionally, it is unable to direct this energy toward a positive outlet.

LEVEL 3: A SINGLE BITE WITH SHALLOW WOUNDS

The Dunbar bite scale’s third level is characterized by bites that result in one to four superficial skin perforations. The depth of the wounds do not go beyond half the length of the canine teeth.

LEVEL 4: A SINGLE BITE WITH DEEP WOUNDS

A level 4 bite is one when the dog only bites once but leaves significant wounds. These bites could occasionally be the result of predatory urges. These are serious bites because dogs shake their heads when they bite to inflict the most harm possible on their victim.

LEVEL 5: MULTIPLE BITES WITH DEEP WOUNDS

Like the previous level, bites on the fifth level result in serious wounds. However, they happen frequently and might happen in different places. This could be a result of the dog biting more than once during a single attack or attacking multiple times over the course of an extended episode.

Dogs who bite at the fifth level on the scale are regarded as dangerous dogs. It is possible to rehabilitate them, but only under the close supervision of an ethologist, veterinarian, or dog trainer.

There are, of course, mitigating factors in bites of this nature. A vicious dog that defends itself by biting should not be regarded as harmful. This may also apply in cases where a dog bites to protect its owner from an assault.

LEVEL 6: DEATH OF THE VICTIM AND/OR FLESH CONSUMED

The most severe level of biting is the sixth and final one. It’s also crucial to remember how uncommon this level is. When the victim has died as a result of the dog’s actions or when the dog has eaten flesh that was taken from the victim, the dog has reached the sixth level.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN BITTEN BY A DOG

1. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

If you or family members are victim of an animal attack, it is important to seek treatment, contact the applicable animal control facilities, identify the dog owner, and secure evidence of the dog attack. An experienced law firm, such as Hughes & Coleman, can help.

MEDICAL TREATMENT: If you or family members are victim of an animal attack, it is important to seek treatment, contact the applicable animal control facilities, identify the dog owner, and secure evidence of the dog attack. An experienced law firm, such as Hughes & Coleman, can help. Medical treatment: Dog bite victims should seek treatment for dog bites as soon as possible. Quick medical treatment is important because dog bites can transmit diseases, such as rabies, and can become infected. Medical attention may lead to the provider reporting the dog bite to the local disease control officers. Additionally, getting the correct medical attention, like having the dog bite injury closed by a plastic surgeon, can lead to better outcomes for scarring. Lastly, medical bills and records should be obtained in assisting in dog bite cases to prove injuries and damages.

2. IDENTIFY THE DOG’S OWNER

Identifying the dog’s owner is necessary to pursue a dog bite claim. Sometimes in dog bite cases, the dog owner tries to avoid responsibility by not claiming the dog, for example. The identity of the dog owner will lead to his or her insurance company. Most homeowners’ insurance policies provide coverage for dog bite claims. In some cases, it is possible that the dog owner’s insurance company excludes coverage for certain dog breeds known to be a dangerous dog/vicious dog, such as pit bulls.

3. REPORT THE DOG BITE TO ANIMAL CONTROL

A dog bite incident should be reported to animal control, even if it did not lead to severe injuries. The dog may need to be placed in quarantine or put down. Reporting dog attacks helps authorities keep up with a dangerous dog, the dog’s owner, and enforce dog bite laws.

4. GATHER AS MUCH EVIDENCE AS POSSIBLE

There is typically a lot of evidence available to support a dog bite case. The dog bite victim should obtain all medical bills and other medical expenses. Types of evidence that should be obtained if possible include:

  • Pictures of the dog and the dog bite
  • Photos of injuries
  • The dog bite injuries
  • Video of the dog attack
  • Evidence of previous dog attacks by the same dog is also important, especially in a one bite rule state.

5. CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED DOG BITE LAWYER

Dog bite attorneys can help you in a number of ways following a dog bite injury. If you have been bitten by a dog, contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in a dog bite claim. A lot of the evidence required to prove negligence and the dog bite injuries can be lost if not secured quickly. For example, a property owner video surveillance camera may have recorded the attack or the negligence of the dog owners. Hughes & Coleman’s dog bite lawyers are available for free consultation and free case evaluation. Our law firm can work on your dog bite case while you recover.

Call us today at 800-800-4600

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DO I NEED A DOG BITE LAWYER?

A dog owner’s responsibility for personal injury as a result of a dog attack varies by state. Some states have a strict liability statute to protect dog bite victims. Strict liability means the owner is liable for the dog bite (with a few exceptions). Other states have a one bite rule, sometimes referred as a free bite. The one bite rule means that dog owners are liable if they knew or should have known the dog was dangerous.

Our dog bite attorneys can tell you the dog bite laws that apply in your dog bite claim if you’ve suffered a dog bite injury. A personal injury attorney helps an injured party to prove negligence, knows when to present evidence to the insurance company, and when to file a dog bite injury lawsuit. It is important to hire a law firm that has dog bite lawyers on staff, who can serve clients locally.

WHAT DAMAGES CAN I SUE FOR AFTER A DOG BITE?

In personal injury dog bite cases, you are requesting that the insurance provider pay you damages so that you can heal from your dog bite injury. If a dog bit you, you can be entitled to financial compensation for:

CURRENT AND FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES

These include not only doctor visits but also prescription drugs, physical therapy, other specialized care, and medical equipment, such as crutches.

LOST WAGES

This accounts for the time you have missed at work as well as any more time you will miss in the future. The financial sum is determined by your wage.

CURRENT AND FUTURE PAIN AND SUFFERING

Pain and suffering refers to the physical discomfort and emotional distress that are compensable as noneconomic damages. It refers to the pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma that accompanies an injury.

LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY

The phrase “loss of earning capacity” refers to the impaired ability to earn money that may be brought on by injuries received. This loss almost always relates to after-effects rather than immediate effects of the incident.

DISFIGUREMENT

A dog bite victim’s disfigurement can prohibit them from finding new employment. This is particularly true if they interact with others. Psychological harm may result from the potential emotional trauma.

Therefore, psychological harm may necessitate consulting a counselor or therapist for expert assistance. With these extra expenses, a dog bite lawsuit may be able to compensate for psychological harm.

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HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT AFTER A DOG BITE IN KENTUCKY AND TENNESSEE?

The statute of limitations for dog bite claims is very short. In KY and TN, it is only one year after the dog bite injuries occur. If you don’t file a dog bite lawsuit on time, you will be unable to recover compensation for your personal injury. The big insurance companies hope that you miss this deadline. Call a dog bite attorney today to find out if you can recover compensation for your dog bite injuries.

IS THE DOG OWNER RESPONSIBLE IF THEIR DOG BITES?

Dog owners must keep dogs under control and not allow them to run at large. A dog owner’s responsibility for personal injury as a result of a dog attack varies by state. You should contact an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to understand your legal rights.

KENTUCKY STRICT LIABILITY STATUTE

For dog bites, Kentucky is a “strict liability” state. This means that even if the dog’s owner took reasonable precautions to keep the animal under control or otherwise prevent the bite from happening, the owner will still be held responsible for any injuries the animal causes. In other words, it is not necessary to demonstrate the owner’s negligence. Strict liability is not the law in every state, so be sure to check your state laws if you’ve suffered a personal injury.

TENNESSEE STATE FELONY LAWS AND EXCEPTIONS

Tennessee statute § 44-8-408 was enacted in 2007, and was part of the Dianna Acklen Act, who was killed by three loose dogs in 2006. The act abolished the state’s “one bite rule” and set forth penalties for owners when their dog “goes uncontrolled” on certain premises or “upon a highway, public road, street or any other place open to the public generally.” It is a class E felony if the attack results in serious bodily injury to a person and a class D felony if the attack causes death. The court described this in the following way:

“Under the Dog Bite Statute, a dog owner ‘may be held liable regardless of whether the dog has shown any dangerous propensities or whether the dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities’ if (1) the owner is unable to keep the dog under reasonable control at all times; or (2) the dog is running at large. Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413(a)(1)-(2). In other words, a dog owner is held strictly liable if the owner’s dog injures a person because the owner failed to exercise reasonable control over the dog or the dog is running at large.” (Searcy v. Axley, No. W2017-00374-COA-R3-CV, 5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 19, 2017).)

THERE ARE TWO IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS UNDER THE STATUTE:

  • There is no liability for police dogs or military dogs protecting someone from being attacked.
  • There is no liability if the victim provoked the dog.
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CALL HUGHES & COLEMAN INJURY LAWYERS TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

We have over 35 years of experience handling cases across our ten offices in Tennessee and Kentucky. We’ve managed thousands of personal injury cases and will fight to get you a fair settlement.

Call us today at 800-800-4600

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