My child and I were in a public park. A man was there with his dog. He did not have it on a leash. The dog ran over, knocked my child down, and bit her on the face. She has lots of stitches and may have a scar. The dog’s owner said that the dog has never done this before. What are my child’s rights?
In Tennessee a dog owner has the duty to keep a dog under reasonable control at all times and to prevent the dog from running at large. If the dog owner does not do so and the animal injures a person on public property (or on private property of someone other than the dog owner) the dog owner is responsible for the dog’s actions.
Under these circumstances, this is true even though the dog has never bitten anyone else.
There are several exceptions to this general rule. For example, if your daughter was harassing or provoking the dog the dog owner would not be liable for the dog’s action.
If the dog owner is responsible, the law permits you and your daughter to recover damages from the owner. Read more about the damages that can be recovered in our legal guide "Understanding Claims Related to Children."
An experienced personal injury lawyer can fully explain what rights you and your daughter have.