Dog attacks appear to be on the increase. Charities such as the RSPCA have reported that dogs bought during the pandemic were not socialised as they should be, and it appears to have made them more likely to be nervous around people and to snap. Added to the increase in dangerous dogs and cross-breeding, which is largely unregulated and uncontrolled in the UK, this seems to have led to more people being injured with less accountability of dog owners.
In the first case, an elderly man went into a pub and saw someone with a dog (a Labrador). As he liked dogs, he asked if he could stroke it. As he moved his hand towards the animal, without warning or provocation, the dog bit his left hand. He sustained a deep laceration to his hand between his thumb and forefinger. He required hospital treatment and was left with permanent scarring. The incident was caught on CCTV and was reported to the police.
Jane, who is an experienced solicitor and has dealt with many animal injury cases, contacted the owner, giving the injury details and claiming that the accident was caused by the owner’s negligence, advising that there was witness evidence that the same type of incident had happened previously with the owner’s dog. The dog owner initially denied liability, but Jane was able to negotiate a settlement of £10,000 with the dog owner’s insurers, based on the medical evidence obtained.
In the second case, Jane dealt with a case in which a man was bitten when delivering a parcel. The property owner did not answer the door, so our client left the parcel in a safe place and posted a card through the letterbox. As he did this, a dog bit his hand through the letterbox. The man attended A & E and had surgery to repair nerves in his right index finger. Further operations followed and he has been left with permanent damage to his right hand.
Jane contacted the property owner but received no reply. She wrote to the woman who owned the house setting out her client’s claim and hoping to be able to negotiate a settlement, but the woman refused to communicate. Jane was very keen to ensure that the defendant did not avoid liability for the man’s injuries and so she employed an enquiry agent to investigate the woman’s means to pay. It was established that the woman owned the house and had a good job and therefore was thought to have the means to pay damages. Jane instigated proceedings and the case was heard – and won – at court. The man was awarded £13,750 in damages. Jane obtained judgement and instructed bailiffs to recover damages and costs.
In the final case, our client was walking his dog, a labradoodle, near his home when his dog was attacked by four others that were running loose. The man was bitten on his hand trying to fend off the attack of the loose dogs and had to carry his injured dog home. He required hospital treatment and has been left with permanent scars on his hand. The dog owner gave our client a false name and address, but again, Jane used an enquiry agent to find her and establish her means to pay. Jane wrote to the woman and sought to settle the claim, but the woman denied liability. However, she later agreed to settle the claim at £6500.
Under the Animals Act 1971, the owner of a dog can be liable for injuries or other harm caused by the animal – even if the dog is not a banned or dangerous breed – if the owner failed to take steps to ensure that the dog could not injure someone.
“Whilst there is much publicity about the injuries that dangerous dogs can cause, it is important to note that dogs don’t have to be recognised as a dangerous or banned breed to be dangerous. Even Labradors and ordinarily placid family pets can injure someone badly if they bite (as in the first case above). Owners are advised to protect themselves, their pets and third parties by having appropriate insurance and control measures in place.”
Contact Jane if you wish to discuss a potential case regarding an animal injury. We will offer you a free-of-charge appointment in which we can discuss the case, and if we can take it on, we will offer you a no-win, no-fee arrangement. Find out more about making a personal injury compensation claim on our web pages.