Dog Bite Claims

Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their animal under control at all times and ensure it does not act in an aggressive manner. Dog bite compensation law is a specialist area which the team at Spencers Solicitors know all about.

Nick Tunnicliffe

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When the news of a savage dog attack hits the headlines, there is a tendency to assume it will relate to pit bull terriers or Japanese Tosas (both banned breeds) but Liverpool police reported last year that a family favourite, the Jack Russell was in fact responsible for the most dog bites in that city and other usually placid dogs have been cited as culprits too.

Being attacked or bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience, leaving a victim with serious physical injuries and long-term psychological damage.

If you have suffered a dog bite or attack, our team at Spencers can help you overcome the trauma by securing treatment for your injuries as well as pursue a dog bite compensation claim.

What should you do if you have suffered a dog attack?

Once you are a safe distance from the animal you should seek immediate medical attention through either first aid or the local accident and emergency department, depending on the severity of your injury.

  • If you do initially treat with first aid, you should still visit your GP at the earliest opportunity. Even if your wounds appear to be only minor any break in the skin could result in infection and you may require a tetanus injection.
  • Take photographs of your injury along with any damage to clothing etc.
  • You should then report the animal and the incident to the police and the local authority and ask them to try and find out if the dog has attacked before.

What information do I need to pursue a dog bite claim?

Under The Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs that are exercised in public must wear a collar with the name and address of their owner inscribed and they should ideally be micro chipped.

So along with gaining treatment and reprting the incident, it would help your dog attack compensation claim if you can also try to obtain the following information:

  • Who does the dog belong to?
  • What is the address of the owner?
  • Did anyone see the incident happen, if so obtain their details as a witness
  • Provide any photographs you were able to take of your injuries or any damage to clothing, etc.
  • Attempt to find out if the animal has ever attacked before and if the owner has details of their household and/or pet insurance

We will then use this information in conjunction with the police or local authority to trace the dog's owner and their insurance company to seek compensation.

However if you were unable to retrieve details of the owner after a dog attack, don't worry. Depending on the circumstances we may be able to treat the claim as a criminal injury where compensation would be paid through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

What should you do if you suffer a dog bite whilst at work?

Dog attacks don't always happen in public places, if your job requires you to visit people's private property it can lead to a higher risk of being bitten by a dog. Some of the higher risk occupations include:

  • Postal workers delivering mail and parcels
  • Meter readers, entering properties to read gas, water or electricity meters
  • Builders, plumbers or electricians carrying out work in homes
  • Police officers or emergency services responding to incidents
  • Charity collectors or door to door sales workers
  • Home help and care workers
  • Security guards working with guard dogs

Dog Bite Law - Dangerous Dogs Act

There are several laws which cover the care and handling of Britain's dogs - estimated to be more than eight million (according to statistics from the Pet Food Manufacturer's Association) - including the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the Anti-Social, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and the Animals Act 1971. There is even a law dating back to 1871 in the form of the Dogs Act.

Most people think that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 only applies to the owners of the list of banned dogs, but that is not the case. Whether you own a large dog or a small dog and it being high tempered or placid, the Dangerous Dogs Act applies to all dog owners.

Long before the Dangerous Dogs Act, The Animals Act made it clear that the owner of a dog either belonging to a dangerous breed or having special characteristics making it dangerous (such as specific training to bite or attack) would be liable for any damage or injury sustained by another person.

However, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, Section 3 made it a criminal offence to be in charge of any breed of dog which becomes "dangerously out of control". Three key points are:

The act applies to a dog dangerously out of control in either a public area, like a park, or on private property, such as in the owner's home or garden.

Liability rests with the person responsible for the dog at the time the offence took place, which may not necessarily be the owner. The dog might be looked after by a friend or relative.

The act also bans ownership of the following breeds of dog:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

And the sale, abandonment, gift and breeding of these types of dogs are also banned.

Even if your dog is not dangerously out of control it can be taken away from you if it is a banned breed.

Most recently, The Anti-Social, Crime and Policing Act 2014 set out advice on how new anti social behaviour powers can be used by local authorities to address irresponsible dog ownership.

This Act made it an offence for any dog to attack a guide dog, hearing dog, or assistance dog. Such attacks are particularly distressing for the handlers and sometimes those owners or handlers are injured in defending their pets or working animals from other dogs.

Should you report a Dog Bite?

It is difficult to estimate how many people are bitten by dogs each year because not all incidents are reported, it can be difficult to know who to report an animal attack to.

Lost, unattended or stray dogs fall under the responsibly of your local council and you can search for your local dog warden on the Direct Gov website. This service can also be used to report a dangerous dog, but in serious circumstances or when the dog remains a risk, the incident should be reported to the police.

What is a Dog Bite claim worth?

With any injury claim it can be hard to put an exact figure on how much your dog attack claim is worth, as we always treat you and your claim as an individual. The seriousness of the injuries you have sustained, the time period over which you will suffer and all the other losses you've incurred will all play a factor in calculating your compensation amount.

Dog Bite Solicitors

If you would like to find out more about making a dog bite compensation claim on a no win no fee basis, the best thing to do is to speak to us. It's free and you're not obligated to do anything.

You can complete our simple online claim enquiry form and one of our specialist dog bite lawyers will contact you when convenient or you can call us direct on 08000 93 00 94.

We're keen to help you make a successful dog bite claim and firmly believe that talking to us will be the first step in securing the injury compensation, help and support you deserve.

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