Personal injury insurance required for Tennessee pet owners?

Tennessee dog owners are likely aware of the controversy surrounding many breeds of dogs which are purportedly dangerous. A surge in reports of dog attacks resulting in personal injury has sparked Tennessee legislators to propose amendments to the Tennessee Code regarding “dangerous and vicious dogs.” According to reports, the proposed legislation may specifically target breeds such as pit bulls and certain terrier breeds.

A recent report on the proposed legislation would require any Tennessee resident who owns dogs classified as “vicious” to hold a liability insurance policy of at least $25,000. Pet owners may be particularly interested in determining just what is classified as a vicious dog. According to the proposed bill, a vicious dog is one that attacks or endangers humans or animals, one that is capable of causing bodily injury or death to humans or animals, and one that’s behavior shows a propensity to attack or be aggressive.

While it is true that this definition may encompass a great deal of breeds, the legislation targets pit bulls and other terrier breeds that are typically labeled as aggressive or dangerous. In addition, reports note that there are smaller breeds of terrier that have a propensity to bite, which could cause even more pet owners to be required to purchase the insurance. Breeds aside, pet owners have the responsibility to ensure that their pets do not attack other people or animals. When pet owners fail to meet these criteria, serious injury or even death can be the result.

Tennessee has personal injury laws in place that protect our state’s residents in the event of a dog attack. While the proposed legislation is designed to help combat the instance of dog attacks and uninsured pet owners, this measure may not prevent Tennessee residents from falling victim to a traumatic attack. Individuals who do suffer a dog attack may benefit from swiftly investigating their rights under the law to determine what avenues for compensation may be available to them.

Source:, “Tennessee legislation targets pit bulls,” Greta McClain, March 20, 2013




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