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While labeled "man's best friend," sometimes another's dog(s) can seem anything but. A dog attack can come sudden, swift, and without warning, leaving the injured hurt and frightened to the core. Compounding this tragedy, many dog attacks happen to the youngest and most vulnerable among us: our children.

In addition to the immediate physical pain, emotional trauma and mental anguish can exist as lasting repercussions from a dog attack. Many times, dog bite victims report long-term distress when in the presence of dogs due to the attack. Viciousness and ferocity become linked to all dogs in general, which can reemerge throughout  a person's life. This leads to serious panic attacks and other disorders that plague daily life.

If you or someone you know have been bitten by a dog and you feel you have a case, turn to the personal injury attorneys at Wettermark Keith to pursue your just compensation. Your pain and suffering shouldn't be overlooked. We offer a free consultation for your case. We'll assess your legal options and go from there.

Be Aware, Not Beware: Dog Bite Statistics

Dog attacks happen in communities across the country. While scarce resources exist concerning dog bite injury statistics, government agencies, individuals, and private entities do put forth some information that try to fill in these gaps.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S. Out of that share, 18 result in deaths.

Additionally, roughly 800,000 of those cases require some form of medical attention. The U.S. sees around 1,000 people in emergency care for dog bite injuries every day. In fact, five percent of emergency room stints relate to dog attacks.

Alarmingly, children comprise almost half of those who suffer dog attack injuries. That rate is amplified in ages five through nine. For children aged four and younger, the lion's share of injuries (nearly two-thirds) take place above the shoulder because of height. Dog bites tend to happen to those most vulnerable: children and older adults. Rural areas witness more ER visits and hospital stays than their urban counterparts — four-fold and three-fold, respectively.

When it comes to bite injuries, concerns can easily extend beyond physical. Medical bills get steep — and quickly. On average, the cost associated with a hospital stay for dog bite injuries totaled $18,200.

What the Most Recent Data Says

While somewhat outdated, the dog bite data doesn't lie. Three years ago, dog bites accounted for 39 deaths in the U.S.

  • Of that number, 62 percent of victims were age 21 or older
  • The remaining 38 percent aged eight or younger
  • 72 percent of deaths resulted from an attack by a family dog
  • More than one dog was involved in 51 percent of fatalities

The Extent of Injuries from a Dog Bite

Dog bites leave lasting scars, both physical and emotional. These residual scars can, unfortunately,  haunt for life. An undue dog bite also ferries a laundry list of medical bills along with it. Injuries from a dog bite vary widely. Some lie only skin deep, while others persist deep inside the psyche. Injuries include:

Scarring: Dogs tend to aim for the face in the event of a dog bite accident, a sensitive area prone to scarring. Depending on the severity of the bite, stitches may be required. This increases the risk for prolonged scarring. Some scars heal up around the six-month mark; others stay etched in for life. In severe circumstances, plastic surgery serves as the only avenue for full scar removal. The bill for a surgery or surgeries can range from $4,000 to more than $100,000 for the most serious bites.

Broken bones: In the event of a dog attack, broken bones can occur if the victim suffers a fall or is knocked to the ground. Some breeds can even break bone through their bite. In the U.S. alone, dog bites account for 18  fatalities every year.

Face and eye injuries: As dogs usually target the face, face and eye injuries commonly occur. Nasal fractures make up a large share of facial injuries for children.

Head injuries: Whether due to a fall or a bite, head injuries also serve as a significant danger in the event of a dog attack. Injuries to the head can be as benign as a simple bump or as devastating as serious head trauma, including a fractured skull or brain injury, which can lead to permanent disability.

Genital injuries: For boys under age 7 who sit stooped above, a dog can also attack their genitals or the area surrounding.

Rabies and infections: Dogs carry the risk of infection, including rabies. Wounds from a dog attack can develop into an infection if not properly treated. Rabies shots should be administered if the dog cannot be identified, located, and tested.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Existing beyond just the physical, post traumatic stress disorder can linger for months, if not years, after dog attacks. This disorder can manifest through manifold means, including withdrawal, depression, behavioral issues, nightmares, anxiety, and more. When experienced by a child, PTSD can stunt academic performance, social relationships, and emotional development.

Tennessee Dog Statutes: Know Your Rights

Tennessee dog statutes require dog owners to keep their dog under reasonable control. In fact, they're bound by duty to do so. If a dog owner fails to maintain control and that dog attacks someone while in a public place or on the property of another, liability falls to said dog owner.

Tennessee law becomes trickier in different settings. For instance, if a dog bite injury occurs on the dog owner's farm, residence, or private property the victim must offer proof of negligence. The victim has to demonstrate that the dog owner had prior knowledge of the dog's dangerous tendencies. Proving this precedes the chances for compensation recovery.

For police and military canines, liability fails to apply in these cases. This extends to a dog protecting someone from an attacker. If the dog is provoked in some way or remains restrained in a kennel or other enclosure, liability also renders void.

Tennessee's common law liability places the onus of proof on the plaintiff. To recover compensation from a dog bite, a victim must establish that dog owner negligence caused or contributed to the injury. At this time, Tennessee does not carry a Dangerous Dog Statute on the books.

Navigating Tennessee's laws and statutes can seem like a tall task alone. That's because it is; however, the personal injury attorneys at Wettermark Keith have the expertise to translate your case into compensation. We'll provide a dog bite lawyer you can trust to represent you and your interests.

Pursuing Dog Bite Damages

Pursuing damages in a dog bite injury usually comes down to insurance. If an offender, dog owner or otherwise, lacks insurance coverage, the chances of compensation recovery become slim to none. However, injured parties can seek damages from a liable parties' independent capital, if it's available and insurance can't be claimed.

Homeowner's insurance makes up the largest share of dog bite claims coverage. On occasion, auto insurance may suit the situation, especially if the dog bite happened in, near, or around a vehicle. In other instances, renter's insurance could apply.

In a building or apartment complex, seeking claims from that insurance coverage may be a viable option. But it can be contingent on the situation at hand. The landlord might not be deemed liable if he or she lacked sufficient knowledge concerning the dog's penchant for violent behavior.

Additionally, some policies opt out of coverage for different breeds, such as Rottweilers and pit bulls.

Why File a Claim Now

In Tennessee, time is of the essence to file your dog bite claim. The state's statute of limitations places an expiration date on your claim validity, which can be much shorter than other states' statutes. The time frame allotted by Tennessee's statute of limitations is one year from the date of the accident. After that, claims become void.

An exception does exist for minors who suffered a dog bite personal injury. Children have until their 19th birthday to file a claim. This being said, time serves as an impediment to your accident injury claims. It's best to contact a dog bite lawyer before time slips too far away — and your chances for full compensation recovery along with it. Seeking expert legal representation almost always proves more beneficial sooner rather than later.

Your Dog Bite Case

For dog bite cases, time frame can be tricky to pin down in absolute terms. A number of dependencies factor into whether or not you reach a speedy settlement or undergo a drawn-out legal proceeding. Some of these include:

Your Settlement Choices: Most dog bite cases never see the courtroom. However, if an unsatisfactory settlement seems imminent, a lawsuit may have to be filed. A verdict could be reached in a matter of weeks, or take months.

The Seriousness of Injuries Sustained: The severity of your injuries plays a major role in your eventual compensation, and can influence time frame as well. Insurance companies may opt to expedite your claim if the extent of your injuries are particularly serious. Consulting with a dog bite lawyer can help ensure that comprehensive and fair compensation comes your way.

Treatment Time: Settling a case before completing treatment does not do many favors. Compensation could change based on the time it takes and how the scars, both physical and emotional, heal.

Recovery Conditions: Expenses rise in proportion to the care needed. These conditions, and the medical bills that follow, factor into your compensation recovery.

Whatever the circumstances may be, the best option remains in front of you: contacting an experienced dog bite lawyer at Wettermark Keith. Our expertise spans decades, which you can put to good use for your case.

Contact Us for Your Case Consultation

A dog attack doesn't end once the attack is over. The aftermath can leave lasting impressions, whether physical, mental, and/or emotional. That's pain and suffering nobody should have to endure. If you've been bitten by a dog, the clock is ticking on your claim — and your case.

At Wettermark Keith, accident law is our specialty, which includes dog bite injuries. We firmly believe in your case and in seeking the compensation you rightly deserve. Your undue injury wasn't your fault and you and your case matter. Contact a lawyer now for a free consultation of your case — and we'll help seek out justice for you and your family.