The following section from Day on Torts Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law​​​ is out of date and should not be used. It remains a part of this site for historical purposes only. An updated version of the book is available by subscription at (Additional information below.)

§5.1 Generally

§5.1 Generally

The Case: Stinson v. Carpenter , No. 01A01-9601-CV00036, 1997 WL 24877 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 24, 1997).

The Basic Facts: Plaintiff struck and killed a bison that had wondered onto the highway on which he was driving. Plaintiff's truck incurred significant damage. Plaintiff brought suit against the owner of a small herd of buffalos that had recently escaped in the area, although the buffalo hit by Plaintiff was without an ear tag that the all of the Defendant's buffalos were allegedly marked with.

The Bottom Line:

  • "The owner of a domesticated animal may be held liable for the harm the animal causes if he or she negligently failed to prevent the harm. [Restatement (Second) of Torts] § 518(b) (1977). Thus, the owner of a domesticated animal must exercise such reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring another as an ordinarily careful and prudent person would exercise under the same circumstances. Groce Provision Co. v. Dortch, [350 S.W.2d 409, 413 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1961)]. The owner cannot permit the animal to run at large, Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-401(a) (1993);Overby v. Poteat, [332 S.W.2d 197, 200 (Tenn. 1960)]; Wilson v. White, [102 S.W.2d 531, 533-34 (Tenn. 1936)], and cannot knowingly or negligently permit the animal to escape and fail to make reasonable efforts to capture it. SeeWay v. Bohannon, 688 S.W.2d 89, 91 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1985); Troutt v. Branham, 660 S.W.2d 502, 505 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1983); Groce Provision Co. v. Dortch, 49 Tenn. App. at 67, 350 S.W.2d at 413." 1997 WL 24877 at *4.

Other Sources of Note:

The 2007 General Assembly adopted new legislation that addresses the liability of dog owners for injuries caused by their dogs. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-17-201, et seq. There are several other statutes that establish a duty to keep animals from roaming at large. See, e.g., Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-109 (requiring that owners of "notoriously mischievous stock, known to be in the habit of throwing down or jumping fences" keep such livestock confined on their premises or suffer liability for damage to enclosure or crops of another); Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-401 (making it unlawful for owners of livestock to willfully allow the same to run at large); Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-403 (providing that no person shall suffer any stallion or jackass over fifteen months old to run at large); and Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-408 (making it generally unlawful for a person owning or having control of a dog to allow the dog "to go upon the premises of another, or upon a highway, or upon a public street"). McElroy v. Carter, 2006 WL 2805141 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 29, 2006) holds that a cat owner did not have a duty to prevent her cat from entering on the plaintiff's land and causing damages to plaintiff's vehicle.

After an accident, many injury victims and their families want more information on the accident and their legal rights. Consequently, many of them have found their way to these pages. While we are happy you are here, please understand Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law was written to be a quick, invaluable reference for Tennessee tort lawyers. While the book provides the leading case for more than 300 tort law subjects and thousands of related case citations, it is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

Rather than researching these legal issues alone, we urge you to contact one of our award-winning lawyers who can sit down with you, review your case, answer your questions and clearly explain your rights and your options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win. If for any reason you are unable to come to our office, we will gladly come to you.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

The book is now available electronically by subscription at The new format allows us to keep the book current as new opinions are released. BirdDog Law also has John's Tennessee Law of Civil Trial and Compendium of Tennessee Tort Reform Statutes available by subscription, as well as multiple free resources to help Tennessee lawyers serve their clients

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