In the United States, we love our dogs and consider them to be members of the family. It is easy to forget that dogs are animals, and genetically very similar to wolves. As lovable as most dogs are, nearly any dog is capable of biting under certain circumstances—some breeds more so than others. Regardless of breed, every dog needs to be trained and socialized from an early age, and even then must be supervised around children and strangers. The nation’s dog population is around 65 million, and every year approximately five million people in the U.S. suffer dog bites serious enough to send them to the emergency room; 15 to 20 people die annually from dog-inflicted injuries. Half of all dog bite victims are children. The majority of fatalities are the result of attacks by pit bulls and Rottweilers. Dogs make serious dents in insurance companies’ profits. More than a third of the claims they pay out on homeowners’ insurance liability claims are related to dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Homeowners’ insurance provider State Farm reports that they paid more than $136 million dollars in a single year for nearly 4,500 dog bite claims. That’s an average of more than $30,000 a claim. That’s because dog bite injuries can do a lot of damage and frequently require very expensive plastic and reconstructive surgery, especially for bites around the face.
Well-known dog behaviorist and author Barbara Woodhouse writes that there are no bad dogs, only owners who fail to raise them responsibly. So when a dog bites someone, it is the dog’s owner who should be held to account for the injury. Tennessee law takes this view, holding the owner strictly liable for a bite in most cases, even if the dog never displayed vicious tendencies in the past. Well-trained and well-socialized dogs generally aren’t inclined to bite unless provoked. Dogs should be exposed to people of various ages, genders, and races and taught to obey some basic ground rules. Regardless of how well trained it is, every dog needs to be watched carefully around children, who may not understand that animals don’t enjoy having their hair, tails, and ears pulled, among other indignities that they may suffer at the hands of small children. It is the owner’s responsibility to supervise or separate when kids come to call. Furthermore, nearly every dog seems to feel antagonism at the approach of a mail carrier, who seemingly provokes the loyal creature responsible for defending the boundaries of the pack’s (family’s) territory daily. This is a well-known and widely observed fact, and therefore it is the owner’s responsibility to restrain the dog when the mail carrier (or other service provider) is due to arrive. A whopping 5,879 mail carriers were bitten in 2012. A pet owner who does not take appropriate precautions can be found liable for any bite that occurs as a result.
If you or a member of your family was bitten by a dog, you should see a doctor immediately; you should also report the bite to animal services. They will send an animal control officer to examine the dog’s immunization record to make sure it has a current rabies vaccination. If it does not, the dog will be quarantined, either at home or at the local shelter, for ten days to make certain it is healthy. In and around Chattanooga, once you’ve received the medical attention you need for your dog bite, call the law offices of Wettermark & Keith, LLC. We will review your case without charge and advise you regarding the legal process to recover compensation for your injury.
We understand how terrifying it can be when a dog attacks, intent on doing you bodily harm. A dog attack not only does physical damage, but can be psychologically traumatizing as well. You deserve to be compensated for all of your damages—physical and psychological, economic and non-economic—and our attorneys have the dedication, experience, and knowledge to make it happen. Call today to protect your right to a recovery, because Tennessee law places strict limits on the time you have to initiate a law suit.