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Legislation regulating dog bites and resulting injuries

Dogs are known as man's best friend and provide companionship to many. Unfortunately, dog bites also occur quite frequently. The state of Tennessee has specific laws dealing with the responsibilities of owners of dogs, as well as the rights of victims suffering injuries resulting from a dog attack.

According to Tennessee law, a person is considered the owner of a dog when the dog mainly lives with the person or is mostly kept or controlled by the individual. It is considered an offense when an uncontrolled dog enters the premises of another person or a public area and this results in injury. Public areas include roads and highways. There are exceptions to the aforementioned, which relate mostly to working and hunting dogs, as well as the protection of the owner and/or his or her property by the dog.

The duty to keep a dog under reasonable control lies with the owner of the dog. Owners also have the duty to ensure that their dogs are not running at large. It does not matter if a dog is considered dangerous -- the dog owner who does not fulfill his duty regarding the control of his or her dog may have to face a civil claim and pay damages to a victim bitten and injured by an uncontrolled dog. Once again, exceptions to the law exists, particularly in the case of trespassers.

Tennessee state dog laws clearly require that dog owners maintain control over their dogs. A victim of a dog attack, who suffered serious injuries as a result, may consider filing a personal injury claim against the dog owner. The applicable laws in Tennessee are considered a mix of strict liability and "one bite" scenarios. Should the court find that the owner acted negligently, damages awarded may assist the victim in recovering the expenses that resulted from the attack.

Source: animallaw.info, "West's Tennessee Code Annotated. Title 44. Animals and Animal Husbandry. Chapter 8. Fences and Confinement; Chapter 17. Dogs and Cats. Title 70. Wildlife Resources", , Sept 14, 2014

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