Dog Bites in Tennessee Law

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By David Peel

Tennessee has a dog bite statute (the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007) that does away with the “first bit free rule” if, and only if the dog is not under proper control and is off his own property, and is not provoked. 

If, however, the bite happens on the Dog’s own property or at a place where the dog has permission to be, then the old “first bite free” law still applies.

The “first bite free” rule imposes liability only on a second bite or where dog owners “knew, or should have known, of their dog’s dangerous propensities.” In 1914, a court said,  “…the owner or keeper of domestic animals is not liable for such injuries, unless the animal was accustomed to injure persons, or had an inclination to do so, and the vicious disposition of the animal was known to the owner or keeper.”  

This works some injustice.  The owner of the dog always denies it was dangerous. (One claimed that– but I found that the dog’s file at the vet called him the “land shark” because he bit them so much!) Also, if you are invited into in a dog owner’s house, and your little girl’s ear is torn off by a dog they claim to have never been aggressive, she might lose that case. She would not get the required plastic surgeries to rebuild her ear. But, if she was walking by on the street, she would. 

This makes little sense. 

Peel seeks justice for those injured in tractor trailer and car accidents, medical malpractice, and disability. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.