A dog bite can be a frightening experience. Often, the attack leaves a victim with serious physical injuries and lingering emotional scars. Unfortunately, in many cases, the incident should have never occurred. It directly results from a dog owner’s negligent handling of his or her pet. In those cases, victims have the right to demand justice.
At The Law Office of David E. Gordon, we represent dog bite victims and their families in Memphis and nearby areas in Tennessee and Mississippi. We work hard to hold careless dog owners accountable, and we skillfully seek all available compensation for our clients. If you or a loved one recently suffered serious injuries in a dog attack, we are ready to help you. Contact our Memphis dog bite lawyer today.
David E. Gordon is a Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist who has practiced law in Memphis for more than 30 years. He understands the many legal, medical and insurance issues in dog bite cases and how to explore all legal options available to our clients. David and our legal team can put that skill and experience to work for you today. Contact us for a free consultation.
What Should You Do After a Dog Attack in Memphis?
When you contact The Law Office of David E. Gordon about your dog bite case, you will talk directly with a lawyer. The attorney will listen closely to you, learn the details of your case and get to know more about how the dog bite has affected your life. We know how traumatic it can be to experience a dog attack. We will give you the attention and support you need during this difficult time.
As you get ready to talk with us about your dog bite case, you should do your best to take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention. A dog bite or scratch carries a high risk of infection. A person may need a rabies or tetanus shot right away. You should immediately see a doctor and get prompt treatment for your wounds.
- Get the dog owner’s contact information. Even if the dog owner is a family member, friend or neighbor, you should make sure to get the owner’s full name and current contact information.
- Report the dog attack. You should file a report as early as possible with your local animal control agency, police department or sheriff’s office. A report will help to document the time, date and location of the attack. (Although the dog owner may face a fine or other penalties, your civil claim will remain a separate matter.)
- Take photos. You should make sure to take photos of your wounds. If possible, you should also get photos of the dog and the place where the attack occurred.
- Keep all items related to the attack. You should keep the clothes that you or your loved one wore on the day of the dog bite. Hold on to copies of medical bills and receipts for other dog bite-related expenses. You should also retain any letters or e-mails that you get from an insurance company.
- Do not talk with the insurance company. The insurance company that provides homeowners’ or renters’ insurance to the dog owner may contact shortly after the incident. You should avoid giving a recorded statement or access to your medical records. You should also never accept a settlement offer or sign a release until you speak first with a lawyer.
Why Should You Get Help from a Memphis Dog Bite Lawyer?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in our country, with children between the ages of 5 and 9 being the age group with the highest rate of dog bite-related injuries. However, Insurance Information Institute statistics indicate that only about 18,000 dog bite insurance claims are filed each year.
The disparity in those numbers suggests that a high number of dog bite victims take no action. This is a mistake. If a dog owner’s careless or reckless handling of a dog caused you or a loved one to suffer injuries, then you have every right to seek just compensation for your medical expenses and other damages. You should act on that right.
In some cases, a dog bite victim may avoid taking legal action because the victim knows the dog and its owner. For instance, the owner may be a family member, friend or neighbor. However, it is important to realize that, in most cases, a dog bite claim will seek no recovery from the dog owner’s personal assets. Instead, the dog owner’s homeowners’ or renters’ insurance should cover the damages. Remember: the owner pays insurance premiums for this type of protection.
Dog bites can result in a wide range of severe, life-changing injuries, including:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Soft tissue injuries (including muscle, tendon and ligament damage)
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Nerve damage
- Complications such as infections
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If a negligent dog owner caused you or your loved one to suffer these injuries or other harm, you should not be left with the burden of paying for medical treatment and absorbing other financial losses. This is why it is important to contact a lawyer and learn more about your legal rights and options.
Although you could choose to deal with the dog owner’s insurance company on your own, you may end up with a settlement that provides less compensation than you would otherwise receive if you worked with a lawyer. This is because an experienced dog bite attorney will know how to pursue the maximum amount for you.
For instance, when you work with The Law Office of David E. Gordon, we will take steps such as:
- Conducting a thorough investigation of your case.
- Reviewing all of your medical records
- Consulting with experts to determine the full extent of your injuries and costs
- Researching and preparing all potential claims in your case
- Handling all paperwork that your case involves
- Making a solid settlement demand to the insurance company and carefully reviewing any settlement offers from the insurer
- Taking your case to trial if it is necessary.
Additionally, our law firm will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that we will assume the risk of pursuing your case. You will pay no fees unless we obtain a dog bite settlement or verdict on your behalf. To learn more about how a Memphis dog bite lawyer from our firm can help you, contact us today and discuss your case in a free consultation.
What Are Your Legal Options Under Tennessee Dog Bite Law?
As you move forward, you should understand the legal options that may be available to you in your dog bite case. Those options will depend on many factors, including where the attack occurred. This is because dog bite laws vary from state to state. Let’s start with a look at the laws in Tennessee.
For many years, Tennessee followed the “one-bite rule.” Under this rule, a dog owner could not be held liable for a dog bite unless the owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog had previously attacked someone.
However, in 2007, Tennessee enacted a strict liability statute (Tenn. Code § 44-8-413). Under this law, a dog owner can be held legally responsible if the victim can show:
- The owner’s dog caused the victim to suffer injuries
- While the victim was in a public place or lawfully in or on the private property of another
- The owner failed to keep the dog under “reasonable control” or allowed the dog to “run at large.”
However, the law has several exceptions. Under the statute, the dog owner cannot be liable if:
- The dog was a military or police dog and “on duty”
- The dog was protecting someone from being attacked by the victim
- The dog was securely confined in a crate, kennel or similar enclosure
- The victim was trespassing
- The victim provoked the attack.
Also, the law provides what is called the “residential exclusion.” Under this rule, the victim would need to prove that the dog owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dog’s “dangerous propensities” if the dog bite occurred on residential, farm or other non-commercial property that the dog owner owned, rented or otherwise occupied with the property owner’s permission.
In addition to the dog bite liability statute, a dog bite victim in Tennessee may have other options to pursue, including bringing a claim against the dog owner or keeper (such as a kennel) for negligence. In some cases, the victim may be able to establish negligence per se based on a violation of a local leash law. For instance, a city ordinance may require owners to keep their dogs on a leash when in public areas. You may be entitled to damages if you can show that the dog owner failed to follow this ordinance, and you suffered harm as a result of that violation.
What Are Your Legal Options Under Mississippi Dog Bite Law?
In contrast to Tennessee, Mississippi does not have a dog bite liability statute. Instead, the state follows the “one-bite rule” that we discussed above. Again, to recover damages under this rule, a victim must establish that, before the attack occurred, the dog owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog had “dangerous propensities.”
Additionally, as in Tennessee, the victim of a dog attack may pursue damages based on theories of negligence and negligence per se. You could bring those claims against the dog’s owner or anyone who was keeping the animal at the time of the attack and, in that sense, should be held responsible for any injuries that the dog caused. Contact our dog bite lawyer in Memphis today.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
At The Law Office of David E. Gordon, we will aggressively pursue full compensation for the harm you have suffered due to a dog bite or animal attack. Whether the attack occurred in Tennessee or Mississippi, the damages we seek on your behalf in a personal injury claim may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and diminished future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Punitive damages.
If the dog bite resulted in the loss of a loved one, our law firm could pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf. A wrongful death claim would seek unique types of damages such as compensation for funeral and burial costs as well as for the loss of your loved one’s affection and companionship and the financial support that he or she would have provided.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Injury Claim?
It is important to pay attention to the time restrictions that apply to bringing dog bite claims in Tennessee and Mississippi. These restrictions are called “statutes of limitations.”
Generally, in Tennessee, you would need to file a personal injury lawsuit within one year from the date when the dog bite occurred or a wrongful death claim within one year from the date of your loved one’s death. In Mississippi, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is three years from the date of the injury. The time limit for wrongful death claims is three years from the date of death. In some cases, such as when the victim is a minor, exceptions apply to these time restrictions.
Keep in mind: Your lawyer will need time to thoroughly investigate, research and prepare your dog bite claim for filing. So, you should contact the Law Office of David E. Gordon as soon as you are ready to take action.
Get Help Today from an Experienced Memphis Dog Bite Lawyer
At The Law Office of David E. Gordon, we take pride in providing outstanding service to our clients. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a dog attack in Memphis or elsewhere in Tennessee or Mississippi, our law firm will give you the attention you deserve and fight aggressively for all compensation you are due. It starts with a free consultation. Call or reach us online today.