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Call us today at (423) 282-1041 if you’ve been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence.

Johnson City Dog Bite Lawyer

If you were recently bitten by a dog in Johnson City, the owner of the animal may bear responsibility for injuries you’ve suffered. Dog owners have a duty to keep others safe from their pets, whether they are on their own property or out in public. Depending on the dog’s history and where the attack occurred, you could be owed significant compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed by a dog bite in the Greater Johnson City area, you cannot afford to wait to retain legal counsel. Dog bite claims are notoriously underpaid by insurance companies who know that victims frequently do not know how much money they could be entitled to. The Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC help both residents and visitors in communities all over Upper East Tennessee who were bitten by dogs. Call (423) 282-1041 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.

Do I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?

To many people, dog bites may not seem like injuries significant enough to warrant contacting an attorney. This line of thinking is often encouraged by insurance companies.

Representatives for insurers will often offer some victims settlements, telling them that they will be able to keep more money for themselves by not hiring a lawyer. Insurance companies will engage in these types of tactics to get victims to accept settlements quickly and before they realize that the amount will not be enough to cover the costs of their future care, which they must then pay out of pocket.

Sometimes, the insurance company may take a more aggressively defensive tactic. In these cases, the insurer may argue that the victim somehow provoked the animal or they will seek some exclusion of liability provided under state law. If they are not challenged, you may be blocked from recovering any compensation.

You do not have to handle these allegations alone. An attorney will be able to protect your rights and make sure that a dog owner is held fully accountable. While you focus on recovering, your lawyer can investigate your attack, gather your medical records and other evidence, speak with witnesses, and negotiate with insurance on your behalf.

Why Choose the Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC to Handle My Case?

The attorneys of the Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC have more than four decades of combined trial experience and have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts in Upper East Tennessee. Our firm’s policy is that all client phone calls must be returned within 24 hours, so you will get answers to all your questions about your case quickly.

Tony Seaton received the Tennessee Association for Justice Paladin Award in 2012 and has more than 30 years of legal experience. He is a board-certified specialist in Civil Trial Practice with an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Robert Bates is a member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association. He was named to the Top 40 Under 40 list by the National Association of Personal Injury Attorneys in 2015 and was also a Dean’s Scholar at the Appalachian School of Law.

The Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC provide legal representation on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you only pay when you receive a monetary award. Our firm will negotiate a settlement that provides for all your needs, and we can file a lawsuit when necessary.

Types of Dog Bite Cases We Handle

Tennessee Code § 44-8-413(a)(1) establishes that a dog owner has a duty to 1) keep their dog under reasonable control at all times and 2) keep their dog from running at large. When a dog owner breaches that duty, the statute provides that they are civilly liable for damages suffered by a person injured by the dog in a public place (or lawfully in or on the private property of another party).

Under Tennessee Code § 44-8-413(c)(1), however, when the dog bite occurred on residential, farm, or other noncommercial property owned by the dog owner, the injured plaintiff must prove the dog owner knew or should have known of a dog’s dangerous tendencies. The statute provides other exceptions that can allow dog owners to avoid liability.

While Tennessee Code § 44-8-413(a) essentially makes Tennessee a strict liability state for dog bites, Tennessee Code § 44-8-413(b) provides that a dog owner is not liable if:

  • The dog was a police or military dog, and the bite occurred during the dog’s official duties.
  • The victim trespassed upon the dog owner’s private, nonresidential property.
  • The bite occurred while the dog was protecting the dog owner or another innocent party from attack by the victim or a dog owned by the victim.
  • The bite occurred while the dog was securely confined in a kennel, crate, or other enclosure.
  • The bite occurred as a result of the victim harassing, enticing, alarming, disturbing, or otherwise provoking the dog.

The statute of limitations for a dog bite claim in Tennessee is only one year. Courts will refuse to hear any action filed after this period has elapsed.

Some of the most common injuries dog bite victims suffer include but are not limited to:

  • Disfigurement
  • Facial injuries
  • Puncture wounds
  • Nerve damage
  • Neck injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Fractures
  • Amputation

Steep medical bills and missed time from work often accompany these injuries. Through a claim, you may be able to recover compensation for these and other losses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites

Dog bite claims are often complex cases, especially since not everyone is familiar with the particular rules when it comes to liability. When you are considering taking this kind of legal action, you therefore likely have many questions about what to expect. The answers to some of our most commonly asked questions are below.


Tennessee Code § 44-8-413(c) is essentially the state’s version of a one-bite rule. Certain states allow dog owners “one free bite,” meaning that dog owners who have no prior knowledge of aggressive actions by their pets cannot be held liable for their dog’s actions. The one-bite rule involves the legal requirement of scienter (proof that a dog owner knew of a dog’s violent inclinations). Tennessee’s residential exclusion specifically requires plaintiffs to prove that an owner knew or should have known about a dog’s dangerous inclinations.
The first thing that you should do after being bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention, regardless of whether you believe you were hurt. Always go to a hospital just to be sure, and take multiple photographs of your wounds before they heal. If you are bitten by a dog whose owner is not known to you, be sure to get the owner’s name and phone number. Ask to see a driver’s license any time you feel that a dog owner may be dishonest about their identity. Do not speak to any insurance company about your case until you have legal representation.
If a stray dog bites you, follow the same steps relating to medical care. When a dog has no owner, then the victim clearly will not have another party to hold liable for their injuries. Two possible exceptions could exist: 1) If a stray dog escaped from the custody of a local pound, then the pound could be responsible for the dog bite and 2) if a former owner had abandoned the dog, that owner could still be responsible for your injuries.

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project’s November 2010 statistical brief found that there were 316,200 emergency department visits and 9,500 hospital stays involving dog bites in 2008 (an average of 866 emergency department visits and 26 hospitalizations every day). The group reported that the average cost of a hospital stay related to a dog bite was $18,200, roughly 50 percent more than an average stay for other injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reported that about 4,521,300 people were bitten by dogs each year between 2001 and 2003. A different CDC study found that 756,701 people bitten by dogs required medical attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that over half of all dog bite victims are children.

According to the United States Postal Service, 6,755 USPS employees were bitten by dogs in 2016. A 2018 report issued by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization public information website DogsBite.org found over 35 dog breeds contributed to 433 deaths between 2005 and 2017.

Homeowners insurance companies paid over $686 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. The 2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons stated that 28,079 people underwent reconstructive procedures related to dog bite repair.


Contact a Johnson City Dog Bite Attorney Today

Dog bites can be serious and have lasting effects. Our experienced lawyers will fight for you every step of the way to help you recover the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you love was injured by a dog bite, we are available to help.

Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC is dedicated to achieving the best possible results for our clients. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (423) 282-1041 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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