Oakwood Solicitors

Accidents Caused by Animals

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Animal attacks are not uncommon and may cause devastating lifechanging and permanent injuries, including psychological injuries.

The most common form of animal attack is unsurprisingly caused by dogs. You may be able to claim compensation if you have suffered an attack from someone else’s pet in a domestic setting, or an attack on farmland or surrounding public highways and property.

Types of animal attacks and animal-related accidents

  • Dog Bites – The most common form of animal attacks, which can take place in a multitude of settings, from being attacked by somebody else’s dog in a park, to attacks at work (i.e. dog groomer or a vet). All dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dog does not harm anyone. This can be achieved by making sure their dog is trained, that the correct lead, harness or muzzle is used or having control over their dog.

It will be investigated whether the accident could have been foreseen or prevented (for example, if the dog is of a dangerous nature.)

The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 was put in place to protect the public from dogs that are particularly considered dangerous (i.e. Pit-Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino).

Section 3 of the Act places a duty on an owner or a person in charge to ensure that their dog is kept in control in a public place.

Accidents Caused By Animals

 

  • Horse riding accidents – Horse claims can be as a result of working with animals and sustaining an injury due to the nature of their work, or as a horse rider (whether experienced or a one-off ride). The horse may kick, or buck which could cause the injury, but this must be caused by another person’s actions.

In riding schools, accidents may be caused by defective equipment, such as loose straps on the saddle, incorrectly fitted riding hats or body protection, or instructors not being suitably qualified or experienced.

Furthermore, if you are a member of the public and not used to being around horses, and you are provided with a horse that has an unsuitable temperament or not easy to handle, which results in you sustaining an injury, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

  • Cow accidents – incidents involving cows may be as a result of driving into a cow on a road that has escaped from a field or being trampled over while walking through a field.  Most accidents involving cows will usually take place in the workplace when handling the cow around their calf, in an effort to protect their young. If the cow has escaped from a field onto a road due to the farmers’ negligence (e.g. not securing a fence), then you may be able to claim against the farmer.
  • Other animal attacks – Such as cattle, cats, pigs and livestock. If you work with livestock, your employer should provide you with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to wear. Furthermore, suitable training should have been provided.

What will I need to prove my accident?

You will need to prove that the animal’s owner was negligent. It will need to be shown that the owner owed a duty of care and that the injury you have sustained is as a result of the breach.

The Animals Act 1971 legally requires owners and handlers to ensure that the animal in their care does not hurt injure anybody.

What if the owner of the animal does not have insurance?

Most pet owners should have specific pet insurance, or alternatively, may be covered by their household insurance.

If there is no insurance to claim against, this may affect your ability to pursue a claim for compensation. It would be unlikely that we would be able to accept the case, as we would need an insurer to go against. As part of our policy, we do not go against layman’s, as they may be incapable of producing the funds to cover the cost of your compensation and our legal fees.

However, if you believe that the animal attacked you at the instruction of its owner (e.g. a dog attack), you may be able to make a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

This may be a complicated option, as you will need to prove that the animal attacked you deliberately at the instruction of its owner. Please speak to our CICA Team here at Oakwood Solicitors Ltd if you believe they may be able to assist.

Intentional Animal Attacks

 

What happens to the animal when it bites someone?

Each situation will be dealt with on a case by case basis. We do not have a say on what will happen to the animal. This will be dealt with by either the police or the RSPCA if they are involved. Alternatively, the owner of the animal may make the decision on whether any action needs to be taken against the animal.

Here at Oakwood, we will not advise what will happen to the animal, we just assist you in claiming Compensation for the injuries you have sustained.

What should I do after an animal attack?

The most important thing to do after an animal attack is to seek medical attention. Your health is your main priority. Make sure you get the wound cleaned out to prevent infection. You may also wish to a tetanus booster to prevent infection.

It is also good to get a record of the incident including any injuries you have sustained as a result of the accident. We recommend that you explain what happened to the medical staff in detail, as this will significantly strengthen your claim.

If you have not done so already, depending on the severity of the claim, we recommend reporting this to the police. This is to get further evidence of the incident/ furthermore, it will allow the police to decide on whether any reasonable steps can be taken to prevent the incident from happening again.

We also recommend that you:

  • Write down what happened – Write a detailed explanation of what happened in writing, this is a good aid for your memory. This can either be for your information only or previous advised a police report.
  • Take photographs – If you can, take photos of the animal involved and your injuries at the scene of the incident.
  • Be clear where it happened. – Try and document where the incident happened, by either taking photographs or drawing out a detailed sketch (including dimensions if relevant). We further recommend printing off a street view map and marking the incident location on the map.
  • Seek medical attention – Attend your GP or Hospital so they can assess the extent of your injuries.
  • Document who was involved – Obtain full names, addresses and contact details of anybody involved. Furthermore, it would be helpful if you could confirm whether they have pet insurance or any other relevant insurance.
  • Get witness details. – If there were any credible witnesses to the incident, try to obtain their contact information.

Employment

 

Can I make a civil claim at the same time as a criminal claim?

If the police are involved and you are pursuing a criminal case against the owner of the animal, you can still make a claim for compensation. So if you are wanting to have criminal charges against the owner of the animal, that is a separate matter and should be dealt with by an appropriate solicitor.

However, please note that you can only claim compensation once. So, you cannot claim compensation for the same incident twice (i.e. via a CICA claim and a personal injury civil claim).

I work with animals. Can I still make a claim for an animal attack?

Whether you work on a farm, in a dog shelter or as a zookeeper, your employer has a duty of care towards you and ensure your safety. Whilst some workers will accept the risks involved in working closely with animals, they are still entitled to a safe working environment.

Employers must assess the risks of working with and handling animals. This includes appropriate training, protective clothing, and supervision or support when you are handling the animal(s) you’re working with.

Whether you are working with trained or untrained animals and an incident occurs at the result of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to be compensated.

As well as making a claim for the injuries you have sustained, you may also be able to claim additional expenses (e.g. time off work, medical prescriptions)

I collided with an animal whilst driving. Can I still make a claim?

If you have sustained injuries as a result of driving into an animal on the road owned by somebody else e.g. a dog, cow, horse, sheep, then you may be able to claim compensation against the owner of the animal if they were negligent in permitting their animal(s) to be on a public road.

What if I have been attacked by a wild animal?

It is unlikely that you would be able to make a claim for compensation, as we would need a Defendant to go against. So if you came into contact with a wild deer and it attacked, unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to claim compensation. However, if the deer is owned by a farm that has escaped, you may be able to claim.

Part 36 Win

 

How long do I have to claim for animal attacks?

You have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim for compensation. We recommend getting in touch as soon as possible so that we collect all the necessary evidence to help aid your claim. There are some exceptions to the three-year time limit:

  • Fatal claims – To make a claim on behalf of a loved one, you’ll have three years from the date of death to make a claim. You may also be entitled to claim for statutory bereavement.
  • Mental capacity – If the victim does not have the ability to run their own case, then there is no time limit. A litigation friend (e.g. a family member) can make a claim on their behalf.
  • Claims on behalf of children – Can be made at any point before the child’s 18th birthday. When the child attains the age of 18, they can claim for themselves up until the age of 21.

What can I claim for?

Every case will be assessed on a case by case basis. It will be dependent on the severity of your injuries. We will consider:

  • Pain and suffering – Caused by your injury or illness. The pain and suffering element of the award compensates the claimant for all past, present and future physical and psychiatric symptoms
  • Expenses – Including travel expenses to medical appointments either via fuel costs or taxi fares, or prescription costs. Please make sure to keep hold of any receipts to help aid your claim.
  • Loss of earnings – To cover any time you’ve had off work and time off you may need in the future. Depending of the severity of the injuries, if this puts a strain on their ability to work on the open labour market, this may also be claimed (i.e. if you cannot stand for long periods of time, this may affect some job roles).
  • Rehabilitation – If you require physiotherapy or further treatment to help provide the necessary rehabilitation for your recovery and well-being. (e.g. skin camouflage to assist in hiding any scars).
  • Help from Family members – If you have had assistance from family or friends following the accident, it may be possible to claim compensation. For example – work including housework, gardening, DIY.

How will my claim be funded?

We offer a ‘no-win, no-fee’ funding option, which means that you won’t have to pay another out of your own pocket. There are no hidden charges and we do not ask for any money upfront. The only time you will need to pay anything is if your claim is successful.

The Defendant will pay the majority of our legal costs, but not fully. As such, as part of our agreement, we are able to take a deduction from your damages.

All we ask is that you uphold your side of the agreement, and we will handle the rest. Namely that you do not mislead us, co-operate with us and attend any scheduled appointments/hearing dates. If despite this, your case is unsuccessful, there will be no charge to you.

If the case succeeds, there will be a deduction made from your damages which is discussed if your case is accepted by our firm.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd

 

Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to escalate your case?

We will ensure that we update you at every stage of the case and you will have a dedicated handler from the very beginning. It can be very stressful after an injury and our team can assist you by breaking down the legal jargon during the process and listening to you.

Further Reading

Crime of Violence Claims (CICA) – Oakwood Solicitors

Intentional Animal Attacks – Oakwood Solicitors

WHAT TO DO NEXT

Get in touch today for a free initial consultation regarding your claim for accidents caused by animals. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help.

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Emma Bell

Solicitor and Head of Employers' and Public Liability

0113 218 5706

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