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Tennessee Dog Bite Laws

If you were bitten by a dog while strolling down the public sidewalk in Tennessee, you may be able to file a strict liability claim against the owner. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, such as lacerations and infections, and intense pain (not to mention mental anguish). These injuries can lead to steep medical bills and lost wages, which is why you'd want to consider filing a claim against the dog's owner in such situations. The following sections summarize Tennessee's dog bite laws and how they establish liability.

Tennessee Dog Bite Laws: Liability and Negligence

Tennessee law is unique in that it provides for both strict liability and a "one-bite" rule for dog bite injuries, depending on the specifics of the incident. Generally, strict liability applies to situations where the plaintiff was injured by a dog in a public place or private place (assuming they have permission). The "one bite" rule applies in other private places where the dog's owner has permission to be. This can sometimes create confusion, which is why it's a good idea to consult with an attorney before filing a dog bite claim in the state.

Tennessee Dog Bite Laws at a Glance

The last thing you have the patience for when dealing with a dog bite injury is deciphering complex "legalese" into language that makes sense. So, we've done that for you with the following "plain English" summary of Virginia's dog bite laws.


Tennessee Code: Title 44, Section 8-413

"One Bite" Rule for Dog Bites

In order to file a claim for a dog bite or other dog-related injury, the plaintiff must prove that the owner knew (or reasonably should have known) that the dog would act aggressively. This is typically established after the "first bite" (i.e. the dog's owner is put "on notice" at that point).

Tennessee's "one bite" rule applies to people who are on a farm, private residence, or other non-commercial property that the dog's owner rents, leases, or occupies with permission.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites

Dog owners may be held strictly liable (i.e. no need to prove negligence or fault) if:

  • The dog injured an individual or damaged their personal property; and
  • The plaintiff was in a private place with permission or in a public place.
Defenses to Dog Bite Claims

The following types of defenses may be established in a dog bite case:

  • The defendant provoked the dog;
  • The defendant was trespassing;
  • The dog is a police or military dog and injury occurred while it was performing its official duties (and handler used appropriate restraint);
  • The dog was protecting the owner or another innocent party from the injured person; or
  • The dog was securely confined in a kennel, crate, or other enclosure.
Time Limit for Filing Claim

Personal Injury Claims: 1 year

Property Damage Claims: 3 years

See the Tennessee Civil Statute of Limitations for more information about time limits for different types of claims.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Tennessee Dog Bite Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Help With Tennessee Dog Bite Laws Today

Time is of the essence when it comes to filing a claim for a personal injury, as there are time limits for filing and you also want to gather as much information as possible soon after the incident. If you've been bitten by a dog in Tennessee, you'll want to explore your legal options. Talk to a Tennessee personal injury attorney specializing in animal bites today and learn more.

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