I’ve Been Bitten by Someone Else’s Dog, Can I Make a Claim?
17th February 2014
The simple answer is “yes”.
Many people may not realise that they have a potential personal injury claim when bitten by someone else’s dog in a public place.
Criminal proceedings are often brought by the police against the dog owner under Section 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 for failing to keep a dog under control in a public place. However, the injured party may also bring a civil claim against the dog owner for damages for personal injury and other losses that have been incurred.
Establishing liability is rarely difficult in these types of cases as the facts will often speak for themselves unless the dog owner can show that dog was provoked as may happen in cases involving children.
The main difficulty is often whether the dog owner has appropriate insurance cover (e.g. pet insurance or household contents insurance) to meet the claim.
If the dog owner does not have any insurance, enquiries will have to be made as to whether they have other assets e.g. if they own their own home.
As a last resort, an application may be submitted to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). However, the success of the application will depend upon whether the you can show that the behaviour of the dog owner was so reckless as to amount to a criminal act e.g. if the person set the dog on you on purpose or encouraged the dog to bite you or failed to control the dog, knowing that it had bitten someone previously.
The effects of the injury can be psychological as well as physical. You may be conscious of the scarring if it is particularly noticeable and may therefore be reluctant to wear clothing which exposes it. You may also suffer from a general anxiety of dogs, which can require counselling in some cases.
If the scarring is particularly noticeable and has a significant cosmetic impact (e.g. facial scarring) you may have to pay for expensive camouflage make up the cost of which will also need to be claimed.
The value of your claim will be determined by the location, size and visibility of the scarring and the degree of psychological reaction. Where the scarring is not to the face or is not usually visible then the awards will tend to be lower than those for facial or readily visible disfigurement.