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Dog Attacks - What Are Your Rights?

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Currently, we are hearing reports of dog attacks on people on a daily basis. What are your rights legally if you are badly injured or perhaps face life-changing injuries as a result of such an attack?

You should of course always report any such incidents to the police who will decide as to whether or not a crime has been committed. 

They will then decide whether to pursue a criminal case against the owners of the dog in question.

However, that does not assist an injured person to recover compensation in respect of their injuries and financial losses.

In such a situation you might be able to sue the owner if the dog’s breed falls under categories set out in the Dangerous Dogs Act or if you can prove the owner was aware of the dangerous behaviour and the aggressive tendencies of their dog, i.e. if the dog has bitten others previously and if they have failed to take steps to prevent this happening again, for example by muzzling the dog or keeping it under control.

This is only relevant and helpful if the owner has insurance cover, or they have substantial assets to enforce a Judgment against.  Otherwise, even if you win an award of compensation if the owner does not have any assets or insurance, you will not be able to recover any compensation.

Currently, you cannot claim against the Government body known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority as such animal attacks are not eligible for damages under the provisions set up by Parliament to claim against this taxpayer / Government funded body.  These attacks do not fall within the definition of a crime of violence (unless the owner intentionally uses or causes the animal to attack an individual). 

These rules need updating and amending to allow individuals to pursue such claims rather than face either having to sue the owner or if the owner has no monies abandoning a claim. 

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is currently calling for changes to the legislation and the scheme to enable people who have suffered terrible physical and psychological injuries in an attack by an out-of-control dog to claim compensation.  This would allow them to try and rebuild their lives and access treatment to help them to recover from their injuries.

If you have been affected by any such incidents or would like a without obligation chat, please do not hesitate to contact our Specialist Senior Solicitor Parisa Costigan on 01983 213811 or email