Dog attack compensation claims
Suffering an injury caused by a dog is distressing however, for anyone looking to bring a claim for such injuries, they should be aware that this is a complicated area of law, and the fact that you have been bitten does not necessarily mean that you will automatically receive compensation.
Firstly the defendant needs to be identified and enquiries made as to whether they have insurance cover. Unfortunately not all dog owners are responsible and many do not feel the need to insure their pets. If not insured, our solicitors would typically make enquiries as to whether a defendant had sufficient means for an injured party to be able to sue them directly. That being established, liability then has to be proven.
Whilst the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is in place to protect the public, the reality is that the few limited breeds covered by this legislation are not typically the dogs that people have contact with on a day to day basis.
Claims are typically pursued under the Animals Act 1971, and the owner or 'keeper' of the animal must be established, and a case built as to whether a dog has been aggressive, or has demonstrated uncharacteristic behavioural qualities, and importantly, whether the owner or 'keeper' of the dog ought to have known that their pet was likely to behave in such a manner.
What breeds of dog are illegal in the UK?
In the UK, the following breeds of dog are now banned by the Dangerous Dog Act and it is illegal to sell or breed any of these dogs:
Pit Bull Terrier
What to do if injured by a dog
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Appropriate treatment should be sought, and this will ensure that a contemporaneous record of the incident is noted down either by the hospital or within your GP records.
Obtain the details of the dog owner and ascertain if they have insurance cover. Many dog owners will have pet or house insurance, which would cover the claim.
Report the accident to the police. This is an appropriate course of action if the incident is severe or there are concerns that the animal concerned could attack again.
Make a detailed account of the accident circumstances. Write down or record an accurate account of the incident as soon as possible, as your legal representative will require as much information as you can provide, in order to pursue your claim.
Obtain the name and contact details of any witness to the accident. Your solicitor may want to obtain a written statement from any passers-by, or from anyone who may know the characteristics of that particular dog which caused your injury.
Take photographs of your injuries. Do this as soon as you are able to, and ensure that you take regular photographs throughout the duration of your claim, to monitor the progression of scarring, for example.
Animal attack claims
Although rare, Stephensons have dealt with claims arising from being injured by other animals, including horses. These claims are also covered by the Animals Act 1971. Typical circumstances would be suffering injury whilst undertaking a riding lesson, animals escaping from farmland, and even being injured by animals in a petting zoo.
If you are subjected to an animal attack, it is crucial to seek specialist legal advice right from the start. Stephensons have dealt successfully with many dog attack cases, and our team would be happy to assist with your enquiries if you have been the victim of this type of incident. Call us on 0203 816 0065 is you would like to discuss a potential claim with one of our specialists.
Is there a time limit for making a claim following an animal attack?
The time limit for making a claim for an injury arising as a result of an animal attack is 3 years from the date of the accident, however, in the case of injury to a child, they have until their 21st birthday. Court proceedings must be issued against the defendant by either the third anniversary of the accident, or the 21st birthday in the case of a child, otherwise the case will become 'statute barred', and the injured party will lose the right to seek compensation. Therefore, it is essential to seek specialist legal assistance at the earliest opportunity.
Is no win no fee available for animal attack compensation claims?
Our personal injury specialist offer no win, no fee funding arrangements in relation to this type of case.
Examples of cases that Stephensons personal injury team have successfully dealt with:
A lady approached us, having fallen as a result of her neighbours’ out of control Alsatian dog. The woman, who was 74 years old at the time of the accident, was walking her friend’s dog on a public path, when an Alsatian dog jumped over the wall of a garden, barking furiously and jumping up at her. She turned away and, while doing so, fell and landed heavily on her hand. The woman suffered from fractures and dislocation to the fingers in her left hand which required surgery. Stephensons brought an action against the owners of the dog arguing that they were strictly liable for the damage caused. The claim eventually settled for £17,000.
Our client was bitten on the hand when posting a letter, as a result of the bite the client’s index finger had to be amputated and nerves and tendons in the hand were damaged. Our personal injury solicitors were able to prove the dog owners were negligent in failing to keep their dog under control and keep their premises safe for visitors. Our client was awarded a £30,000 settlement.