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11 March 2016

Dogs and The Law

Paul Rossiter
Posted by: Paul Rossiter Managing Director

Dogs and The Law

In the UK there are approximately 9 million dogs being kept as pets, and while most dog owners behave in a responsible way and ensure the safety of their pets and the people that come into contact with them, some do not. Fortunately, there are strict laws that dog owners must follow in order to minimise the risk to members of the public and other animals, including other dogs. Whilst having laws in place to encourage responsible dog ownership is essential, training plays an even bigger part in controlling a dog but unfortunately, this is down to the owner and is entirely at their discretion.

The law relating to dog bite claims is governed primarily by the Animals Act 1971. The Act stipulates that the dog’s “keeper” can be held responsible for the actions of their dog. In most cases some level of negligence by the owner has to be established, it’s not as simple as saying “your dog bit me and therefore you are responsible”, you need to be able to prove that the owner was negligent in their duty of care towards you. For example, if the dog was secured on a lead and had no history of aggression or biting and someone were to approach to the dog and start stroking it, it may be difficult to prove owner negligence.

If you are unsure whether you have a valid claim, contact one of our knowledgeable personal injury solicitors and they will use their considerable experience of handling dog bite claims to assess the validity of your case. Even if the dog that attacked you wasn’t listed as a dangerous breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act, we can still proceed with your claim, using evidence from specialist veterinarians, details from your statement and statements from witnesses present at the time of the incident in order to try and demonstrate negligence by the dog owner.

If a dog is classed as a dangerous breed in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 or Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997, then the owner is liable for the injuries or damage caused, irrespective of whether they have been negligent or not.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 lists dogs that are defined as dangerous which include:

  • Certain Pit Bull Terriers
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Dogo Argentine
  • Other breeds which display the physical characteristics of a dog that has been bred for the purpose of fighting.

The possession, breeding and sale of any of the above breeds is strictly prohibited by law. So, if you are unfortunate to suffer injury in an attack by one of these types of dogs then your chances of making a successful claim are particularly good, as the owner is already guilty of breaking the law by owning one, representing a breach of their duty of care as a dog owner.

If you, a friend, or a family member have been the victim of a dog attack and suffered an injury, making a compensation claim is important, not only to secure the compensation that your injury deserves but also to ensure that the dog owner is held accountable for their negligence and so that steps can be taken to prevent the dog from attacking anybody else in the future.

So, to begin your dog injury compensation claim, contact PSR's Dog Bite Claim Experts today.

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