When liability bites

England is a nation of dog lovers, but recently, the Haverhill Echo reported that dog incidents are an increasing problem in Haverhill. So, what is the law relating to dog ownership and what remedies can you take if you or your dog are a victim of a dog bite incident?

It is a criminal offence to let a dog be dangerously out of control. A dog is considered dangerously out of control if it injures someone or threatens to injure. It is also dangerously out of control if it attacks and injures another animal.

If you are bitten by a dog, we would recommend that you identify the owner of the dog and report the matter to the Police. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a dog attack you may want to consider pursuing a claim for compensation for your personal injury and losses. This can be made with reference to The Animals Act 1971 and/or a claim in Negligence.

Animals Act 1971

The Animals Act 1971 sets out the circumstances in which the dog’s “keeper” can be held responsible for the actions of their dog. Over the years, the Act has been interpreted in different ways, but one of the most important and controversial interpretations is that the Animals Act imposes “strict liability” on the keeper of a dog for its’ actions.

This means that the Act can hold someone responsible for an injury caused by their dog regardless of whether or not they themselves are at fault. The test which needs to be satisfied is whether the damage caused by a dog is attributed to a characteristic of the dog which was known to the keeper.

The Act however does offer defences for the keeper to the strict liability finding. If for example the person injured was either totally or partially at fault for what happened, or if they voluntarily accept the risk of injury.

Allegations of Negligence

All owners owe a duty of care to others in respect of the behaviour of their dog. If owners do not do all they should in respect to the control of their dogs, they will have breached that duty of care and may be held responsible for any losses suffered as a result of this negligence.

Dog owners would be well advised to have insurance to protect against claims in respect of their dogs behaviour. Knowledge again plays a part, for a dog owner to be held negligent it would have to be evidenced that they knew or ought reasonably to have known that the incident could happen.

Man’s best friend is worth the extra vigilance.

Kerry - adjusted (640x427)

Kerry Wigg is a Partner at FM&C and specialises in personal injury law. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7454 866 133 or +44 (0)1440 761 200.

Email: kerry.wigg@fmc-solicitors.com

Accident or injury? Why do I need legal advice?

Accidents can happen at any time, and the consequences of your injuries can be life changing and difficult to cope with.

Although it is natural after an accident to focus on your medical treatment and recovery, if someone else was to blame for your accident, it is also crucial that you seek legal guidance as quickly as possible.

If you have an accident, there are a few practical steps we would recommend:

  • Take legal advice about your claim as soon as possible from a specialist personal injury solicitor. There are strict time scales for pursuing a personal injury claim. A claimant has 3 years to issue formal legal proceedings from the date of the accident.
  • If you haven’t done so already, seek medical attention for your injuries. It is important that there is an independent record of your injuries and the treatment you require/receive.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene or any other item associated with your accident. This is important evidence.
  • Ensure that your accident is reported to whoever is responsible. Complete an accident report.
  • Make a note of any witness details. Any evidence to corroborate your account of the accident will be helpful.
  • Keep a pain diary, noting the extent of your injuries and the effect on your ability to work, or effects on your day to day life. Take photos showing the remedial work.
  • Keep any receipts or invoices of expenses you incur due to your accident and a record of any trips to your GP or the hospital.

We recommend that you arrange an initial meeting to discuss a potential claim with a trusted local solicitor. At FM&C, this would be done at no charge. We offer a free risk assessment to establish whether a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) often referred to as a “No Win No fee” agreement is the right funding option for you.


Kerry - adjusted (640x427)

Kerry Wigg is a Partner at FM&C and specialises in personal injury law. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7454 866 133 or +44 (0)1440 761 200.

Email: kerry.wigg@fmc-solicitors.com