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Dog bite injuries on the increase

View profile for Pauline Smith
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Can I claim compensation after being attacked by a dog?

Another day, another story on the news about a child being terribly injured after being bitten by a dog.

We are a nation of dog lovers, and the covid pandemic saw a sharp increase in people becoming dog owners, due to lockdowns imposed upon the county, with many seeing the time spent at home as the ideal time to get a dog as a companion.

However, statistics show that the number of people being injured by dogs has risen by double in the last 25 years, and even more sobering, that around 9,000 people were taken to hospital in 2022 as a result of wounds inflicted by the nation’s favourite pet. In the twenty-year period from 2001 to 2021, on average between three and four people were killed per year in the UK as a result of injuries inflicted by a dog. Worryingly, that figure is increasing year upon year.

What is causing this increase? 

Experts are finding it difficult to give any kind of definitive opinion because there is no real collation of information as to the cause of this.  One theory suggests that the pandemic brought about a rise in puppy breeding, and that any puppy bred with health problems was more likely to suffer stress. Unscrupulous puppy breeders did a roaring trade during the pandemic. Additionally with more people working from home now, dogs are used to constant companionship and don’t have a quiet space to retreat to when frustrated. There has also been a rise of so-called experts in dog behaviour surfacing on social media over the last few years, many of whom have a huge following, with many people choosing to turn to this medium to train their pet rather than paying for an appropriate and potentially costly dog trainer.

Most data shows that the dog attacks, both in relation to adults and children, happen within the home environment, but obviously there are instances where you can be subjected to a dog bite from a stranger’s pet.

If you have been injured by a dog, either in someone’s home, or when out walking perhaps, is there anything that you can do to recover compensation for your injuries? First and foremost, you need to find out the name and address of the owner of the dog that has attacked you, so that you or your legal representative can contact them.

One of the key points to establish is whether that dog owner had any prior knowledge that their pet might have a tendency to behave in an aggressive manner. Had it bitten before? Was it known to the police?  Should it have been muzzled when out in public? If so, then this might be a way to establish liability against the owner.  

If the dog was not normally aggressive, was there something that might have caused its behaviour to temporarily change, such as an illness or injury or was it on a type of medication that might induce aggression?

Another main point that needs to be established is whether the owner is insured. One would hope that a responsible dog owner would insure their pet, but if they did not and they had no means to pay compensation and legal costs, then pursuing a claim against them could prove very difficult.

The main point to note is that all dogs, no matter what breed, are capable of injuring by biting, but any dog behavioural expert would advise that biting is usually a last resort and is brought on by a dog feeling stressed or frustrated.

If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite and want advice on whether you are able to make a claim, then please contact our specialist personal injury team on 0161 696 6235.