Dog Bite and Dog Attack Compensation Claims

In 2023, police forces throughout England and Wales recorded 30,539 offences relating to dog bite injuries suffered by people or guide dogs, a 21% increase from the previous year’s figures. Sadly, dog bite attacks are far from being rare occurrences. 

Dog owners and handlers, including commercial dog walkers, owe a duty of care to others to stop their dogs from behaving dangerously or causing harm to others, usually in the form of biting, scratching or mauling. 

A dog bite of any type can be traumatic, regardless of severity. Amongst other things, it can cause permanent scarring as well as psychological injuries. 

What if another person’s dog has bitten you, and it was not your fault (for instance, you were not provoking the animal or causing it any injury or harm)? You may be able to 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

  1. 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 skin doesn’t seem broken) 
    • Remove any foreign objects from the wound – hair, grit, and, yes, even teeth! 
    • Encourage the wound to bleed freely by gently squeezing it 
    • If the wound is already bleeding heavily, put a pad or dressing over it and apply pressure 
    • Dry the wound and cover it with a dressing or plaster 
  2. Seek medical treatment for even what appears to be a minor injury; this will help set your mind at rest. Doing this also ensures there is a medical record proving you sought medical attention, which is especially helpful if you decide to pursue a personal injury compensation claim.
  3. Take photos of the injury over the coming days and weeks to provide a visual timeline record. 
  4. Make a clear and concise note of what happened as soon as possible after the event while it is still fresh in your mind. 
  5. Try to take a photograph of the dog if possible. However, your safety is your most important concern. 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. 
  6. Take the details of anyone who may have witnessed the incident. 
  7. Report details of the incident to the local dog warden 
  8. Report the attack to the police – the police can check whether the dog is on any list of dangerous dogs they maintain. If the dog that attacked you is already on record as a dangerous animal, then your dog bite claim may be more likely to succeed. 
  9. Retain receipts for things that relate directly to your injury, including prescription charges, first aid materials, taxi receipts, etc.  
  10. Take photos of damaged clothing and retain damaged items for inspection. 
  11. Keep any damaged clothing, jewellery, etc., in a plastic bag—do not wash the clothing. 
  12. Get the dog owner’s name, address and contact details. 
  13. Try to find out if the dog owner has any form of insurance (pet or household insurance). It will be helpful if you make a dog bite injury claim.  

Don’t worry; your solicitor can take this up on your behalf if you can’t get all these details. At Mooneerams, we have successfully brought many dog bite compensation claims for injured clients.  

In most cases, we’ll be able to find out whether a dog owner has insurance to cover your claim if you succeed. If they have, you can bring a dog injury claim, knowing 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 1990s, the Government introduced the Dangerous Dogs Act, designed to protect the public from certain dangerous dog breeds. Several breeds were explicitly listed as dangerous dogs. 

These include:

  • Pit Bull Terrier 
  • Japanese Tosa (also known as a Japanese Mastiff or Fighting Dog)
  • Dogo Argentino (also known as an Argentinian Mastiff) 
  • Fila Brasiliero (also known as a Brazilian Mastiff) 

Anyone owning one of these breeds must adhere to specific requirements 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. 

On 31st December 2024, the American XL Bully was added to the list of dangerous dogs. From that date, it became illegal to breed, sell, abandon or advertise for sale XL Bully dogs. Furthermore, from 1st February 2024, owning an XL Bully became unlawful, too, unless the dog was placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs before 15th January 2024. 

However, it would be a mistake to think that dog bite attacks are solely carried out by dogs named in the Dangerous Dogs Act. Household-name breeds can also cause nasty injuries. 

What if I am injured by a dog whilst I am at work?

This is most likely to happen if you work with dogs, e.g., if you are a police dog handler or civilian assistant in the dog unit or if you work at dog kennels, a veterinary practice, as a security guard, or at an animal shelter. 

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, as a result of this breach of duty, you suffer injury in a dog attack, then you will be able to file an accident at work injury claim. 

If you work in any capacity where you come into contact with dogs and get injured by a dog bite or other form of injury in a dog attack, 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: 

  • supply you with adequate protective equipment  
  • operate a safe system of working 
  • provide proper 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, 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 to a friend or relative who goes into the house for a social visit and gets 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 that has been let off its lead by its owner while 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 for damages (compensation). The dog owner must take reasonable steps to avoid any act they can reasonably foresee that would likely cause harm to another person (or animal). 

Can I claim for a dog bite injury if the dog’s owner is uninsured or unknown? 

If you are bitten by a dog whose owner is uninsured, or you don’t know the identity of the dog’s owner, you may still be able to claim compensation. You will need to pursue your claim through a government body known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). As its name suggests, to succeed with a CICA claim, the Authority must satisfy itself that the dog’s attack on you ‘amounted to a crime of violence.’ 

The CICA must be satisfied that: 

  1. The person in charge of the dog deliberately set the dog on to you.  
  2. The cause of the attack was the dog owner’s failure to control a dog, known to be vicious, adequately, and the lack of control amounts to recklessness. 

What compensation can I claim for following a dog attack?

The amount of compensation you will get when you make a dog bite claim will differ from claim to claim. No two cases are the same. 

Below, we list some of the claims that could be made. Which items you claim for will depend on the particular circumstances of your claim. The compensation will be for the injury and also any financial losses you suffer as a result of the accident: 

  1. Compensation for the injury, often referred to as damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. 
  2. Any reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the injury. Such items include medical expenses, prescription costs, first aid supplies, travel costs to and from medical appointments 
  3. Loss of earnings 
  4. Rehabilitation costs 
  5. The cost of any items damaged in the attack, such as clothing  

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 serious injury or, in extreme cases, death. 
  • Scarring – scar tissue can be unsightly, and plastic surgery may be needed. Scarring can lead to a loss of self-esteem and psychological damage in severe cases. 
  • Damage to bones – when the dog that attacks is large or powerful, knocking a victim to the ground can cause bony damage, ranging from fractures and breaks to crushed bones. The dog bite itself may cause damage to a bone. 
  • Psychological damage – dog attacks can be frightening experiences that 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 severely damaged that amputation is the only option. 
  • Fatal injury – though fatalities from dog attacks are still relatively rare, the number of deaths from dog bite attacks has been rising over the past few years 

Why should I instruct Mooneerams to handle my dog bite injury claim?

Mooneerams Solicitors has extensive experience dealing with dog bite and dog attack claims. We are niche personal injury solicitors (we don’t do other types of legal work); therefore, our experienced solicitors are all experts in personal injury claims. 

Call Mooneerams now on 029 2048 3615 for a FREE, no-obligation initial discussion with one of our legal experts. We’ll discuss the circumstances of the dog attack with you and provide some initial advice on whether we think you have a reasonable chance of successfully recovering compensation for a dog bite claim. 

If our expert thinks your prospects of success are reasonable, we would be happy to start the claims process if you decide to have Mooneerams act for you. 

In most cases, there is a three-year time limit from the accident date to start your claim. 

We handle most dog bite attack claims on a No Win No Fee basis. If your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have anything to pay. 

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