Dog Bite and Dog Attack Compensation Claims
Dog owners and dog handlers, including commercial dog walkers, owe a duty of care to others to stop their dogs from behaving in a dangerous manner or causing harm to others, usually in the form of biting, scratching or mauling.
A dog bite of any type, irrespective of its severity can be traumatic. Amongst other things, it can cause permanent scarring as well as psychological injuries.
If you have been bitten by another person’s dog and it was not your fault (for instance you were not provoking the animal in any way or causing it any injury or harm) then you may be able to make a claim for compensation against the owner or carer responsible for having control of the dog at the time.
What to do after being bitten by a dog
- If you get bitten then the medical advice is to:
- Clean the wound as soon as possible by running warm tap water over it (even if the sin doesn’t seem to be broken)
- Remove any foreign objects from the wound – hair grit and yes, even teeth!
- Encourage the wound to bleed freely (if it isn’t already) by gently squeezing it
- If the wound is bleeding heavily put a pad or dressing over it and apply pressure
- Dry the wound and cover with a dressing or plaster
- Seek medical advice – even with what appears to be a minor injury this will help set your mind at rest. It will also document that you have sought medical attention and provide some details of the injury. This will be helpful if you decide to pursue a personal injury compensation claim.
- Take some photos of the injury over a period of time to show how long the injury was visible and how long any bruising, swelling etc., took to lessen.
- Make a clear and concise note of what happened as soon as you can after the event whilst it is still fresh in your mind.
- Photograph the dog if at all possible. Your safety is the most important thing and if taking a photo of the dog is likely to put you in further danger from the dog or its’ owner, don’t do it.
- Take the details of anyone who may have witnessed the incident.
- Report details of the incident to the local dog warden
- Report the attack to the police – It will put the incident on record at least. As well the police can check whether the dog is on any lists of dangerous dogs that they maintain. It may also ensure the safety of others in the future if the incident has been logged. If the dog that has attacked you is known by the authorities as a dangerous animal, then your claim may be more likely to succeed.
- Retain any relevant receipts for things that relate directly to your injury – these may include prescription charges, first aid materials, taxi receipts and such like.
- Retain any damaged items of clothing; jewellery, etc., in a plastic bag – do not wash the clothing.
- Get details of the owner of the dog involved – name, address and contact details.
- Ascertain, if you can, whether there is any form of insurance in place (pet insurance or household insurance) that will be extremely helpful in the event of you making a dog bite injury claim.
If you aren’t able to get all these details, your solicitor will be able to take this up on your behalf. At Mooneerams, we have had plenty of success in pursuing dog bite compensation claims on behalf of injured clients. In the majority of cases, we’ll be able to find out whether someone has insurance. If they have insurance then you’ll be safe in the knowledge, that if your claim is successful there will be an insurer on hand to pay out any compensation you get awarded.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
In the early 1990’s the Government introduced The Dangerous Dogs Act which was designed to provide additional protection to the public from certain breeds of dogs that were considered to be dangerous. There were a number of breeds which were thus identified.
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa (also known as a Japanese Mastiff or Fighting Dog)
- Dogo Argentino (also known as an Argentinian Mastiff)
- Fila Braziliero (also known as a Brazilian Mastiff)
Anyone who owns one of these breeds must adhere to specific requirements designed to keep the public safe. The requirements include keeping the dog on a lead and muzzled when out in public, the dogs must also be tattooed, chipped, insured and registered on the Index of Exempted Breeds.
This act was amended in 1997.
However, it would be a mistake to think that all dog bite attacks are carried out by any of the breeds of a dog named under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Household name breeds of dogs can cause nasty injuries and do.
What if I am injured by a dog whilst I am at work?
This is probably most likely to happen if you work with dogs e.g. you are a police dog handler or civilian assistant in the dog unit, you work at dog kennels, at a veterinary practice, security guards or at an animal shelter etc.
Your employer owes you a common law duty of care to provide you with a safe place of work and a safe system of work. The employer must safeguard you from reasonably foreseeable hazards. If they breach this duty of care and you are injured as a result of this breach of duty, then you will be able to make an accident at work injury claim.
If you are employed in any capacity where you come into contact with dogs and are injured by a dog bite or other form of injury in a dog attack, then you may be entitled to make a dog bite claim against your employer.
Whether you have a reasonable claim depends on whether there has been a breach of duty of care, such as a failure to provide you with protective equipment or a failure to operate a proper or safe system of working. Alternatively, the injury may have been caused by a lack of training.
What if I’m injured by a dog whilst visiting someone’s home?
The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 covers the situation where injury is caused to a person within the home or at a business. Visitors to those premises are owed a duty of care, as follows:
The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable, to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there
As the name of the Act suggests, this law places the responsibility on the ‘occupier’ of the premises, not the owner. This means, under this Act, that the occupier is considered to be someone who has: ‘sufficient degree of control over premises to put him under a duty of care towards those who are lawfully upon the premises.’
A postman or woman delivering letters or someone pushing the church magazine through the letterbox would be ‘lawfully on the premises’.
So, for example if a postman or woman has their hand bitten when they post letters through the letterbox, by a dog inside the house, then they would have reasonable prospects of success if they decided to make a dog bite injury claim against the occupier of the premises.
The same applies too, to a friend or relative who goes into the house for a social visit and who is bitten by the occupier’s dog.
What if I am injured by a dog whilst I am walking, running or cycling in a public place?
If you are attacked by a dog which has been let off its lead by its owner, whilst out in a public place, the general principles of negligence apply.
If the dog runs over and bites you without being provoked, then the owner may be liable to you for damages (compensation). The dog owner is under a duty to take reasonable steps to avoid any act which they can reasonably foresee would be likely to cause damage to another person (or animal).
What compensation can I claim for following a dog attack?
The amount of compensation that you can recover when you make a dog bite claim, will differ from case to case. No two cases are ever the same.
However, these are some of the items of claim that could be made. Which items you claim for will depend on your particular circumstances:
- Compensation for the injury itself ( often referred to as damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity)
- Any reasonable expenses which have been incurred as a result of the injury such as medical expenses, prescription costs, first aid supplies, travel costs to and from medical appointments
- Loss of earnings
- Rehabilitation costs
- The cost of any items that may have been damaged in the attack (take photos of any damaged clothing etc immediately and retain damaged items for possible inspection)
What types of injury can I claim for following a dog attack?
Injuries caused by an attack by a dog, include :-
- Dog Bite – Varying degrees of injury that range from the very minor, where there is no breaking of the skin, through to multiple deep wounds causing very serious injury or in extreme cases, death.
- Scarring – scar tissue can be unsightly and may need plastic surgery in the future. Scarring can lead to a loss of self-esteem and psychological damage in severe cases.
- Damage to bones – where the dog that attacks is large or powerful, knocking a victim to the ground can cause bony damage which can range from fractures and breaks, to the crushing of bones. The dog bite itself may cause damage to a bone.
- Psychological damage – dog attacks can be frightening experiences can lead to the victim having a fear of dogs or even developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Amputation/loss of limbs – although fortunately rare, in the case of a long-lasting attack with multiple biting and mauling injuries, limbs can be so badly damaged that amputation is the only option.
- Fatalities – though rare, sadly there have been occasions where dog attack injury victims have died from their injuries.
Why should I instruct Mooneerams to handle my dog bite injury claim?
Mooneerams have extensive experience of dealing with dog bite claims and dog attack claims. We are niche personal injury solicitors (we don’t do other types of legal work) and therefore our experienced solicitors are all personal injury claims experts.
Call Mooneerams now on 029 2048 3615 for a FREE, no-obligation, initial discussion with one of our legal experts. They’ll go through the circumstances of the dog attack with you and provide some initial advice on whether they think you may have a reasonable chance of successfully recovering compensation.
If our expert thinks your prospects of success are reasonable then we would be happy to start the claims process for you, should you decide you want Mooneerams to act for you.
In most cases, you’ll have three years from the date of the accident within which to start your claim.
We handle most dog bite attack claims on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have anything to pay.