Bitten by a dog?

The law surrounding injuries sustained by an animal, namely, a dog, is an area which is less straightforward as opposed to other areas of personal injury claims. The main piece of statute that governs this aspect of law is the Control of Dogs Act 1986, in particular, Section 21.

In comparison to other personal injury claims, such as road traffic accidents or accidents at work, the third party usually has adequate insurance coverage in order to provide appropriate compensation to the victim. However, with matters concerning pets, it becomes extremely unlikely that a pet is adequately insured in order to deal with matters such as these. The following is a checklist that you should consider before pursuing a personal injury claim in relation to a dog bite:

  • Do you know the owner of the dog?
  • Is the dog insured?
  • You must have suffered some form of physical injury

A crucial element in determining whether you have an actionable case is whether the Defendant’s actions were negligent which therefore contributed to the injury sustained. The law is of the view that dog owners are fully responsible for their pets and owe members of the public and visitors to their property a duty of care. However, if you trespass onto someone’s land and sustain an injury, you may not be able to successfully claim against the third party as per the maxim, ex turpi causa non oritur actio [see blog post], which means ‘from a dishonourable cause, an action does not arise.’ In addition, if a person’s property is sign-posted with warnings curtailing the risk of injury of others, then this could negatively impact your chances of obtaining compensation.

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