Dogs are popularly known as ‘man’s best friend’ and are considered beloved ‘family’ members in millions of homes across the UK.
However, despite their usual lovable natures, dogs can cause severe and life-changing injuries when they attack. With an estimated 9 million pet dogs in the UK, accounting for 23% of all household pets, dog bites often do and will continue to happen.
However, the true scale of the problem is likely to be much greater, when you consider that many dog bites may be treated at home or via a local GP, rather than at a hospital.
Common dog bite injuries include scarring, nerve damage, disfigurement and amputation. Some dog attacks can even be fatal, especially if the victim is a baby or child. If a dog owned by someone else has bitten you in an unprovoked attack, then you are entitled to seek compensation from its owner.
In this guide you’ll find out
What the law says about dog attacks, and step by step instructions on making a dog bite compensation claim. We also explain the evidence you’ll need to collect and detail estimated compensation pay-outs.
What Is The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991?
It is important that you are aware of the Dangerous Dog Act enacted in 1991. It banned the following breeds of dog in the UK:
- Dogo Argentino
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Fila Brasilerio
- Japanese Tosa
According to the act, it is illegal to own, breed, sell, abandon or exchange these dogs. So, if you were bitten by any of the above dog breeds, you are highly encouraged to seek compensation.
What Are The Common Types Of Injuries Received From A Dog Bite?
Dog bites can result in many forms of injury, but the most common are listed below:
- Bone crush or broken bone injuries
- Psychological damage
- Open and deep wounds that requiring stitching
- Scarring and tissue/muscle damage
- Brain or head injuries
- Bacterial infections
- Amputation of limbs
How Do I Begin Filing For Dog Bite Compensation?
Making a claim for compensation after being the victim of a dog bite attack involves the following:
1 Get Medical Help
The first thing you should do after a dog bite attack is to seek medical treatment immediately. Apart from being potentially life-saving, the injuries sustained and treatment required will greatly influence the outcome of your case.
So, as you undergo treatment, your doctor will assess your injury, work out a treatment plan and give a prognosis on how it may affect your life. This diagnosis will be entered in your medical records, which will be used to calculate your final compensation pay-out.
2 Report The Incident To The Relevant Authorities
You will also need to file a report about the incident with the appropriate authorities.
Report the attack to the police as soon as you can and your local authority’s dog warden, who will then create a detailed file that can later be used as proof to back-up your claim.
3 Write Down Details Of The Incident
It is important to write down how the dog bite attack happened. Do this as soon as you can, as relying solely on your memory at a later date is less effective than a clear account written just after the incident. Include the following ..
When and where did the incident occur? What type of dog was it? Was the dog on a leash or not? What were you wearing? Who was around at the time the dog bite happened? How did the owner react?
Be as detailed and descriptive as possible, as it will help paint an accurate picture of the attack for those overseeing your case.
4 Get Physical And Photographic Evidence
In addition to your notes, you will need photos of your injuries to build a strong case.
Take photographs of the injury after it occurred and as it heals. Also take pictures of the scene of the incident and, if possible, the dog.
Additional evidence you should keep is the clothes you were wearing when the incident happened. Ensure you do not wash them or repair any damage.
5 Get Eyewitness Report
Did anyone else see the dog bite attack happen? Then you should get their side of the story.
Better still, collect their contact details so that you can reach them if their eyewitness account is needed in court.
6 Collect The Dog Owner’s Contact Details
Your claim will be filed against the owner of the dog responsible for the attack.
This means you will need their contact details, the dog’s breed and name, and their vet’s details. If you are unable to get this information, your solicitor should be able to help you with this.
7 Keep Your Receipts
As you treat your injury, there are expenses that you will undoubtedly have to pay for.
These expenses could include prescription tablets, transportation costs, replacing damaged clothes or property etc.
It is important that you keep the receipts and put them in a safe place, so that you can be refunded for all the additional expenses you incurred.
8 Consult A Lawyer
Yes, you can make a claim for compensation by yourself, if you wish, but without the guidance and knowledge of an experienced legal professional skilled in such compensation cases, your chances of winning may be reduced or result in a lower settlement.
Apart from seeking the best resolution on your behalf, your solicitor will do most of the heavy lifting such as liaising between you and the eyewitnesses or police.
What Can I Claim For?
When filing for compensation, you are entitled to claim for the following:
- General damages: This covers your loss of amenity (quality of life), pain and suffering.
- Special damages: This covers your financial losses, such as loss of earnings, medical expenses, care expenses and travel expenses.
How Much Should I Expect From My Dog Bite Compensation?
It is difficult to ascertain the exact compensation you will get for a dog bite, because of how different each case is.
In addition to the severity of the injury and future prognosis, the victim’s age, employment status (for loss of earnings etc) and location of scar all have to be taken into account before a compensation amount can be determined.
This is the major reason each dog bite attack has to be individually assessed and handled on its own.
With that said, we can list some average compensation amounts as a guide, based on previous cases.
- For pain and suffering (depending on the severity of the injury and impact on quality of life), compensation could be anywhere from £1,000 – £200,000.
- For minor or moderate psychiatric damage, compensation could between £1,000 – £14,000.
- However, for severe psychiatric damage that affects the victim’s ability to cope with life and work, compensation could range from £14,000 – £88,000 depending on the long-term prognosis.
- Facial disfigurement
- For facial disfigurement that causes less severe scarring but a considerable psychological reaction, compensation could be from £23,000 – £36,800.
However, for facial disfigurement that causes extreme scarring and a severe psychological reaction, you could be awarded compensation around £36,800 – £74,000.
This depends entirely on the individual circumstances of the victim.
You can be refunded any medical expenses you have paid, any loss of earnings (or future earnings if relevant) and any other related expenses such as house or car modifications needed in the case of life changing injuries and disability.
Is There Any Time Limit For Filing For Dog Bite Compensation?
Yes, there is. The law grants you a duration of three years, starting from the date of the attack, to make a compensation claim.
If the attack happened when you were a minor, the three years will start counting from the date you turn 18.
Failure to file a claim during these three years will result in you getting permanently barred from ever seeking compensation. Nevertheless, there are special cases where this time limit does not apply.
If you are claiming on behalf of someone mentally incapable of doing it on their own, the time limit will begin to apply on the date they regain their mental faculties.
Furthermore, it is important to note that if you decide to use the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) to file a claim, instead of making a personal injury claim through a solicitor, the CICA gives you a time limit of only two years.
Can I File For Compensation On Someone’s Behalf?
You can seek compensation if the victim is a minor, or if the victim was killed during or because of the attack. You can also claim on behalf of someone that cannot do so because of the severity of the injuries they got from the attack.
My Dog Bit Someone And I Do Not Have Insurance – What Do I Do?
If you don’t have any insurance to pay the victim, you will have to pay the compensation out of your own pocket. However, depending on how your case turns out, the court may only require that you offset the victim’s medical costs. Each case is individual, so we suggest you speak to a solicitor.
I Was Attacked By A Stray Dog – Can I File A Claim?
You can make a compensation claim if you can identify the owner, because their negligence led to your injury.
However, in some instances, you can still file a claim even if you don’t know the dog’s owner. Your lawyer will help you seek compensation from the company in charge of the grounds on which the incident happened because they allowed a stray dog to roam freely, or from your local council.
Getting bitten by a dog is a traumatic ordeal that can cause severe physical and mental suffering. Thus, you should not be left alone to shoulder the burden of getting well. File your compensation claim as soon as you can and get the settlement you deserve, to put you on the path to recovery.