Dogs are some of the most beloved family pets, but any breed of dog can be unpredictable and can cause serious injuries if they attack. A dog bite can cause permanent scarring and damage to the skin, nerves, muscle and bone. In the most extreme cases, a serious dog bite can cause an infection which, if left untreated, may even lead to amputation.
A solicitor can help you to make a compensation claim for a dog bite even if:
Any type of injury can be traumatic, and dog bites are no different. You could claim compensation to cover the effect of your physical pain as well as the psychological impact that the dog attack has had on your life. For example, if you’ve had to take time off work to recover, then your solicitor will help you claim for any lost earnings.
If you’re unsure whether you have a claim, you can talk to a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 for free – they’ll be able to tell you then and there whether they think you may be able to make a claim. Or, you can fill in this claim form to arrange a call back.
It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. What can appear to be a small scrape on the skin’s surface might lead to an infection or other problems, so it’s best to get the bite checked out by a medical professional.
If you’re bitten by a dog, you should report it to the police and the dog warden at your local authority. If possible:
This information makes it easier for your solicitor to know who’s responsible and to find out further details about the dog. You will also need to collect evidence of the dog attack should you decide in the future to claim for compensation. If you are safely able to, you should:
These steps will help your solicitor with your compensation claim.
Dog bites and other injuries caused by dogs can happen on private property and on public land. Wherever you will find a dog, there is a risk of injury – however small. You could be bitten by a dog while at work, for example, if you are a dog groomer, a dog walker or a vet. You could also be at risk if you deliver a parcel to a private address, for instance, as a postman or courier.
You could also be bitten by a dog at the local park or playground, on the street, or at a neighbour’s house. Dogs can even escape from public or private land and get into your garden and cause someone injuries. If you have been injured by a dog attack which was not your fault, you should be able to claim injury compensation.
Contrary to popular opinion, any breed of dog can give a nasty bite if they feel threatened enough. Even so, the law treats some types of dog as more dangerous than others.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was passed to make sure that the most harmful breeds of dog are kept out of the hands of people who might breed or train them to be aggressive.
Breeds that are currently banned in the UK include:
All dog owners are expected to keep their dogs under control at all times. The Dangerous Dogs Act makes it illegal for dog owners to allow any dog to be out of control.
If there’s a dog in your area that you think might cause harm to someone, you can speak to the dog warden at your local council to report the owner. They’ll visit the owner and decide whether that dog could be harmful or not.
Under the Guard Dogs Act 1975, a guard dog is defined as a dog being used to protect premises, protect any property on the premises or protect a person acting as a guard on the premises. If you have been injured on land where a guard dog is being used and it wasn’t your fault, the owner will probably be liable to pay compensation for your injuries.
However, if the guard dog attack was your fault, you might not be able to claim compensation. For example, if you ignored clear warning signs or you were trespassing and you were attacked by a guard dog, your solicitor is likely to advise that you have little chance of winning a claim. Still, if you’re unsure about whether you can claim or not, you can call a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 for advice.
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a stray dog, we know this can be especially shocking. As well as your actual injuries you might be worried that the dog is carrying a disease such as rabies or tetanus.
You might also be feeling unsure whether you can claim because the dog doesn’t have an owner. Even if the owner of the dog can’t be found, you may be able to make a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
You may also be able to claim against anyone who is responsible for the area where you were bitten, such as a business park or a local housing estate. Quite simply, this means a dog attack may be classed as a criminal injury, whether or not the owner can be identified.
All dog owners are expected to keep their dogs under control at all times. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, dog owners have a legal responsibility to keep their dogs under control both in public and in private. This means dog owners must take appropriate precautions, such as:
If you have been bitten by a dog caused by the owner’s negligence, you may be able to claim for compensation. You will need to prove that the dog owner was negligent and that you were injured as a direct result.
Following a dog bite, it is essential that your child receives medical treatment as early as possible. You should also make sure that their medical records are checked to ensure they are up to date with tetanus vaccinations.
If your child has been bitten by a dog, you can make a compensation claim on their behalf. The responsibility for the dog remains with the dog owner, as they should take even greater care to control their dog when children are around. If possible, it is important to get in touch with a solicitor as soon as possible after the event whilst your child is more likely to remember the details of the attack.
When you speak to a legal adviser, they’ll be able to let you know whether they think your dog bite or other dog injury claim will be successful. You can make your claim on a no win no fee basis which means if you don’t win, you won’t pay anything at all.
With no win no fee, there aren’t any upfront charges or hidden costs. If you do win your case, your personal injury solicitor will charge you a ‘success fee’ as a percentage of the compensation you receive, but this will only take up a maximum of 25% – so you’ll still get to keep most of it. This fee will be agreed between you and your solicitor before they take on your case.
Claiming for compensation can help you in many ways if you have been injured by a dog attack. Compensation can:
Your compensation can also help to make up for the psychological impact of the attack, and the effects your injury has had on your social life, family and hobbies.
The amount of compensation you receive depends on the nature and seriousness of your injury, and the impact it has had on your life. Early in the process it might be difficult to estimate how much injury compensation you may receive. According to estimates based on current injury compensation guidelines:
You can also try this compensation calculator which estimates the amount of compensation you might receive based on your answers to some simple questions.
You have three years from the date of the incident in which to start legal proceedings. Therefore, you should take steps to make your compensation claim as soon as possible. After three years, you will be ‘time-barred’ and might not be able claim compensation.
If you’re claiming for a child, you have until they reach 18 years to make a claim (they then have until they are 21 to make a claim in their own name). If you are claiming on behalf of someone who is not mentally capable of doing so on their own, this three-year period does not start to run until they have regained their mental capacity.
If you’re claiming through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, then the time limit is usually two years.
However, whether you’re claiming for yourself or for anyone else, start the ball rolling as soon as you can while the incident is fresh in your mind.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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