ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY – Claiming for Personal Injuries Following a Dog Attack
Unfortunately, injuries suffered as a result of dog attacks have been increasing steadily over the last number of years. An attack by a dog is a terrifying experience and can leave victims with serious and long-lasting injuries, both physical and psychological.
Unfortunately, many of these incidents occur in public areas where dogs are not properly restrained by their owners.
The Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as amended) provides that a dog owner is strictly liable for the injuries caused by his/her dog as a result of an attack. S.21 of the Act provides as follows:
“The owner of a dog shall be liable in damages for damage caused in an attack on any person by the dog and for injury done by it to any livestock; and it shall not be necessary for the person seeking such damages to show a previous mischievous propensity in the dog, or the owner’s knowledge of such previous propensity, or to show that such injury or damage was attributable to neglect on the part of the owner.”
Furthermore, the Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 impose additional rules in respect of the following breeds (and certain cross breeds) of dogs:
- American pit bull terrier
- English bull terrier
- Staffordshire bull terrier
- Bull mastiff
- Dobermann pinscher
- German shepherd (Alsatian)
- Rhodesian ridgeback
- Japanese akita
- Japanese tosa
The rules dictate that these dogs must be kept on a strong lead, by a person over the age of 16 years, who is capable of controlling the dog. The dog should also be muzzled whenever in a public place.
These rules combined with the above-mentioned legislation, place very onerous obligations and duties on dog owners which unfortunately, most dog owners are not even aware of.
We at Cantillons have been consulted by numerous clients who have been physically and psychologically injured following an attack by a dog. The most common question posed is whether or not one can pursue a claim for Personal Injuries following an attack by a dog. The short answer is yes!
There is certain information that should be obtained in order to pursue a claim such as;
- Name and address of the dog owner.
- Details of exactly how the incident happened.
- Details of any witnesses to the incident.
- Photographs should be taken of the injuries.
- Was there any CCTV footage in the area which would have captured the incident?
The incident should also be reported to the Gardai.
In order to pursue a claim for personal injuries, it will also be necessary to establish that an injury was suffered. Medical records and a medical report from a treating medical practitioner will be required.
In these situations, it will also be necessary to ascertain whether the dog owner will have the financial means to meet any award of compensation, if the case is successful. Generally, most dog owners will have owner’s insurance or the dog may be covered under a household policy of insurance although these policies may not cover “dangerous dogs”. However, we have seen cases where dog owners are private individuals who do not have an insurance policy in place and any award of compensation may need to be paid out of their own pocket. Therefore, an important consideration will be whether the potential Defendant has the financial means to meet a claim and it is important to seek advice on this matter.
One generally has two years from the date of injury/wrongdoing in order to pursue a claim for personal injuries. However, each and every case is unique to its own particular facts and it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible should you wish to pursue a claim for personal injuries suffered as a result of a dog attack.
Cantillons Solicitors have recovered compensation for clients in the past who have suffered Personal Injuries following an attack by a dog.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.