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When Dogs Attack: Holding Pet Owners Accountable for Personal Injuries

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People, and other animals, can get seriously injured when dogs attack. When a person suffers personal injuries, pet owners can be held accountable. Those that sustained injuries have the right to claim personal injury compensation from pet owners.

Pet owners can only be held accountable for personal injuries due to dog attacks under certain circumstances. There are laws that have to be adhered to in order for people to be pet owners. Just like there are only certain compensation claims that can be made by injured persons.

Whether it be the pet owner or the injured person, they would definitely need legal advice in the event of a personal injury claim. It is a good idea to ‘find an accident claim lawyer’ with experience in dog attacks, or whatever the species your pet may be. Having adequate legal help can only be regarded as an advantage.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim is a legal case that someone makes against a person or a company to get monetary compensation for any physical or psychological injuries they sustained during an accident or attack that wasn’t their fault. The compensation is usually paid by the responsible person’s insurance company if they have one. Most of the time personal injury claims are settled outside of court, but if a consensus can’t be reached, the case will have to go to court.

There are various different categories of personal injury claims, including road traffic accident claims, accident at work claims, medical negligence claims, faulty product claims, serious or fatal injury claims, and injuries in a public place claims. Dog attacks commonly fall under the last two categories. Dog attack injuries include relatively small bites to arms and legs, serious facial injuries, tendon or muscle damage, serious limb damage, severe cuts and possible damage to internal organs, and death.

Legally it doesn’t matter if you were directly attacked and bitten, or if your injury was an accident caused by an uncontrolled dog. For your claim to be successful, you have to prove that the dog owner was negligent and is liable for any damage caused. There are a variety of compensations that you can claim for. Loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, medical expenses, and physiotherapy. You have three years from the date of your injury treatment to file a claim for personal injuries.

Responsibility of Dog Owners

A dog owner is a person in possession of an animal. If the owner is under 16 years old, the head of the household is the legal dog owner. Even if someone has lost ownership or possession of a dog, they are still liable until a new keeper has been found. Dog owners should take out insurance that covers medical costs for pet injuries, as well as compensation costs should the dog ever attack a person or animal. There are also policies that owners can take out for cover should they ever be sued due to their dog attacking a person.

Owners always have to have their dogs under control in public and private places, including their homes. No matter the type or size of the dog. A dog is deemed out of control if it hurts someone, or makes them worried that they might be hurt. The court could decide that a dog is dangerously out of control if it injures another animal, or if the owner thinks that they themselves might be hurt when trying to stop their dog from attacking another animal.

The Animals Act 1971 states that owners have to control their dogs, even when that breed is not on the dangerous dog list. It is the owner’s responsibility to keep the public safe from their dog. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes sure that the most dangerous dog breeds are kept away from people who might train and breed them to be aggressive. Currently, these breeds include Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Filo Brasileiro. People who own these breeds of dogs legally have to have them insured, neutered, and microchipped. In 2014 the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was amended so that personal injury claims can be made against a dog owner even when the bite happened on the owner’s private property. Although, there are conditions to that.

When an owner has told someone not to go near their dog, or if a dog is heavily restrained, it is a clear warning that the dog could attack. The Animals Act 1971 provides dog owners with defences they can use against personal injury claims.

Trespassers—If you can prove that your dog wasn’t trained to attack trespassers, and it attacked a stranger on your private property, you can reduce the compensation you have to pay, or even have the case dismissed.

Contributory negligence—If the attack was not entirely the responsibility or fault of the dog owner, the negligence can be shared and compensation payments can be alleviated.

Volenti—When you have warned someone that your dog is dangerous and could attack, but they ignored your warning and got injured. This could lower the amount of compensation, or even get the case dismissed.


This article describes what a personal injury claim is, and what categories of injuries can be claimed. The different types of dog injuries that can be claimed as personal injuries are given. The compensation that someone who has been attacked by a dog can claim is given. The definition of a dog owner is discussed, as well as why pet insurance is important. The control of a dog in different spaces is explained. The Animal Act 1971 and Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 are touched upon, and the dangerous dog breeds are listed. The defences that a dog owner can use against personal injury claims are given and explained.

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