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Liability for animals and injuries caused by animals

Accidents involving animals often make the news, but they are rarely as astonishing as an incident on the 3rd of January 2013 here in Chelmsford, when a lost and panicking stray deer somehow found itself in the centre of town. Running down the high street, it tried to jump over a young woman, who was injured as she was kicked in the face and head by the deer’s hooves, before the deer finally escaped.

This may be an extraordinary example, but accidents involving both wild and domestic animals are surprisingly common, as are, indeed, compensation claims connected to these incidents. A good personal injury lawyer will fully investigate the incident and advise on liability.

It may be that someone was responsible for the animal and it’s welfare and to ensure it stayed where it should have been.

Nine people died after having been bitten or struck by animals in 2011, and two deaths were caused by ants or bees. Dogs are a particular type of animal-related injury which regularly makes headline news. Every year in the UK, around 200,000 people including both adults and children are bitten by dogs: and some of these bites can be very serious. In 2011, six people died after having been bitten by a dog.

Children and the elderly

Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks. In June 2012, a two-year old toddler was attacked by two Staffordshire bull terriers and suffered serious facial injuries. And in August of the same year, an 83 year old man died after he was attacked by a pit bull-type dog in his own garden. In November, a one-week old baby was killed by being bitten by his family’s Jack Russell terrier. Less serious injuries, however, can also be frightening. In July, two dogs loose in a road in East Sussex injured ten people before finally being brought under control by police officers, who also arrested their owner.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Recent guidelines have tightened up the regulations, and the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 meant that more offenders now receive more severe sentences then they did before if they are held responsible for injuries caused by their dog. The government have also been examining widening the legislation in order to protect postmen and others who are attacked while on private property.


Claiming for compensation as a result of an animal related injury can be a lengthy process. The victim may be able to make a claim for compensation for the pain and suffering they have undergone as a result of the actions of an animal, as someone may well be found to be responsible either for the animal’s behaviour, or for circumstances directly related to the incident. The amount of compensation will be calculated according to a number of determining factors, including the psychological trauma the victim may have suffered, any loss of income, damage to belongings or clothes, and money to cover medical fees including plastic surgery or other costs.

Reporting Procedure

Anybody who has been bitten or otherwise injured by an animal must report the matter to the police as soon as possible, making sure that all information connected to the case is carefully kept. The onus may be on the victim to ascertain the identity of the animal’s owner, and contact details of all witnesses will be essential. Photographs of the injuries or damage will also be useful, as will receipts and bills for any expenses that may have been incurred related to, for instance, your injury, medical costs, or travel. These documents will help the personal injury solicitor to make the strongest case possible for the third party’s liability.

Any situation involving animals has a lot of unknowns and a specialist solicitor will look at any potential claim to bring any liability to light. Indeed, as well as observing the regulations, such as those relating to leashes and muzzles for dangerous breeds, people who are responsible for animals must also keep the animal well, and not neglect its well being. Dogs are much more likely to attack humans if they have been mistreated, and in many ways, for those who care about animal welfare it makes it even more important to make sure liability is established in cases of mishandling or neglect, so that those who mistreat animals can be brought to justice as well as people who have been injured getting the compensation that is their right.