Memphis Dog Bite Lawyer

Attacked by a dog? Know your rights!

In Tennessee, those injured by dogs may be able to file lawsuits against the owner of the dog. According to Tennessee Code 44-8-413[1], the owner of a dog has the duty to keep the dog under reasonable control at all times. If the owner fails to do so, and their dog injures someone while loose, they can be held liable for that injury.

When Dog Owners Are Not Liable

The Tennessee Code lists several exceptions to civil liability for injury caused by dogs. For example, liability should not be imposed on the owner of the dog if:

  • The dog is a police or military dog, and the dog was acting in his official duties
  • The injured person was trespassing on the dog owner’s property
  • The dog was defending its owner from attack
  • The injured person was provoking the dog

One Free Bite

Tennessee’s old dog bite law operated on a “first bite” rule, meaning the owner of the dog would not be held responsible for a bite if the dog had never bitten or attacked anyone before. This became known as the “one free bite” principle, but it is no longer in use per the Dianna Acklen Act of 2007.

Moore v. Gaut

A case was recently heard by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the decision of which interpreted Tennessee’s dog bite law. The case, Moore v. Gaut[2], originated in 2012 when the plaintiff visited the Defendant’s residence to service a satellite dish. The plaintiff claimed that, because the Defendant owned a large dog, he should have known the dog was dangerous. The trial court found that the dog’s size alone was no indication of danger. This case affirmed current Tennessee dog bite law, as well as something called the “residential exception.”

Residential Exception

Tennessee is the only state with a “residential exception” to its dog bite law. This exception removes liability from dog owners when a bite or attack occurs on the property of the dog’s owner, residential or commercial.

Tennessee offers many protections from liability to dog owners, which is why if you were bit by a dog, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. Reaves Law Firm is here to be your voice against the opposition. If you or a loved one was bit by a dog, you can learn your legal rights and options by contacting us today.




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