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Dangerous Dog Bites Double Over Decade

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A recent case in which a six-year-old girl had part of her ear bitten off by a dog in Essex has once again highlighted this growing problem. Police have charged the man with allowing the dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place and causing injury under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Although the victim suffered additional damage to her neck and shoulder she survived the attack. Following such a horrific attack, what sort of recourse might the injured party have against a dog owner to compensate them for their injuries?

It is estimated that around 6,000 people end up visiting hospital each year with dog bites, a figure that has nearly doubled over the last decade. The number of convictions for such offences has also been rising at a similar rate. This year, judges have for the first time proposed sentencing guidelines for those convicted of dangerous dog offences with sentences of up to two years.

Criminal sentencing may deal with offenders but provides little benefit to victims who require medical care, time off work or other help following such an attack. To receive compensation injured parties must make a civil claim.

Claiming compensation is not straightforward however, as there is no automatic right to it and claims are very much dependent upon individual circumstances. Broadly, a person must be able to show that they were injured by a dog, that the dog had a history of aggressive behaviour and that its owner was aware of such behaviour. If these conditions are fulfilled or if the dog is one specified in the Dangerous Dogs Act, the owner would then be under a duty to prevent the dog from injuring members of the public. Before proceeding with a compensation claim there are several further details to be considered; to increase the chances of success the injured party must be able to identify the owner; the attack must have been reported to the police; and it is helpful if the owner has insurance covering 3 rd party injury caused by their dog. If the dog owner cannot be identified or is uninsured or of limited financial means then making a claim is likely to prove futile.

If a successful action is brought, it can cover a number of claims. Damages Compensation may be sought for physical and mental suffering, damage of property (clothes etc) and medical expenses including prescriptions.

If you have been attacked by a dog and need legal advice Rollingsons have personal injury lawyers who are experienced in pursuing compensation on behalf of injured parties, for more information please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.