Being attacked by a dog is likely to be a traumatic event for anybody. Dog bites can lead to permanent injuries and scars and they can make you much more anxious or scared when you’re out and about. You may not realise it but if you are bitten by a dog through no fault of your own, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our article on dog bit claims will explain how to begin a claim and what you could claim compensation for.
To enquire about a dog bite claim straight away, please call our claims line on 0800 652 1345 today. Alternatively, please carry on reading to learn more about when you could claim compensation for a dog bite injury.
Can I claim compensation for a dog bite?
You might think that being bitten by a dog is just one of those things. However, dog owners have a legal duty to control their animals and to keep others safe from injury. Our personal injury lawyers could help you to claim compensation for dog bites if you can show that:
- You were attacked by somebody else’s dog (this could be an individual or an organisation); and
- The attack was unprovoked; and
- You sustained dog bite injuries as a result of the incident.
If your claim meets these criteria, one of our solicitors may agree to try and secure compensation on your behalf. They will do most of the groundwork for you but you could help by providing proof to support your case. We’ll look at what forms of evidence could help a little later on.
What should I do if I’ve been bitten by a dog that could help my claim?
If you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by a dog and are considering putting in a claim for compensation, we would suggest that you:
- Seek medical attention for your injuries. Dog bites can easily lead to infections so it’s best to have them checked even if the injury is minor.
- Try to identify the owner of the dog.
- Write down the date, time and location of the incident. Also, write down the breed of the dog if you can identify it easily.
- Report the incident to the police. They may decide to take action against the owner or provide advice on how to avoid similar incidents.
The Dangerous Dogs Act
To help protect members of the public from being attacked by dogs, the government passed the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. It allows restrictions to be imposed on dog owners who own a pet that poses a serious danger to the public.
Within the legislation, several dogs were categorised as dangerous breeds. As a result, the ownership of the following breeds is now banned:
- Pit Bull Terriers.
- Dogo Argentino (Argentinian Mastiff).
- Japanese Tosa (Japanse Fighting Dog or Mastiff).
- Fila Braziliero (Brazilian Mastiff).
The Dangerous Dogs Act also sets out that if a dog is dangerously out of control, the owner (or the person in charge of the dog) will have committed an offence.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog through no fault of your own, our solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation for your injuries.
How much compensation for a dog bite can I claim?
You should not think of dog bite compensation as a form of penalty or fine that is imposed on the dog owner. The idea of any personal injury claim is to help the claimant recover from their injuries (general damages) and to cover any financial costs they sustained (special damages).
If you make a successful dog bite injury claim, it could include compensation to cover:
- The physical pain you endured during the attack and because of your injuries.
- Any mental trauma resulting from the incident. This could include panic attacks, anxiety, distress or anxiety. It could also cover any psychological issues caused by scars.
- Any impact your injuries have had on your hobbies, social life or family activities (loss of amenity).
- The cost of replacing items such as clothes that were damaged when you were bitten by the dog.
- Care costs if you needed to be supported by others while you were recovering from dog bites.
- Medical expenses. In some cases, this might include private plastic surgery costs.
- Travel costs linked to your treatment such as fuel and parking fees for hospital appointments.
- Loss of earnings if your injuries meant you had to take unpaid leave from work.
- Future loss of earns where your injuries will mean you’ll earn less in the future.
- The cost of changes to your home (or vehicle) to help improve your quality of life if your injuries have resulted in a permanent disability.
As you’ll notice, there is a lot to consider when making a dog bite claim. It’s important to take time over this process as you can only make a single claim. To try and secure the maximum amount of compensation for dog bites as possible, your solicitor will spend time discussing your case with you to fully understand how you’ve been affected.
Medical proof for dog bite claims
The severity of your injuries from being bitten by a dog is one of the most important factors used to determine how much compensation you’ll be paid if your claim is successful. As such, as part of the claims process, you’ll need to visit an independent medical expert.
They’ll discuss your injuries with you after examining you and try to understand how you’ve been affected. They may also read through any medical records available to them. Once the appointment has finished, they’ll explain your prognosis in a report that will be available to both parties in your claim.
Providing proof for dog bite compensation claims
Any insurer who receives your compensation claim is likely to reject it until they are given clear proof that their client’s dog was responsible for your injuries. They may also try to pay less compensation if you can’t prove the extent of your injuries. For these reasons, you and your solicitor should try to provide as much proof for your dog bite claim as possible including:
- Details of the dog’s owner. This should include their name, address and telephone number.
- The police reference number if you contacted them after you were bitten by a dog.
- Details of anybody else who saw you being bitten. If necessary, your solicitor could ask them to provide a statement of what they saw if the incident is denied.
- Photographs of the dog (if possible) plus pictures of your injuries. If your camera has a date stamp function, you should take pictures of your injuries throughout your recovery.
- Medical records from the minor injuries unit, GP surgery or hospital that treated you. You can request these at a later date if you do decide to proceed with a claim.
- Receipts, bank statements or invoices to demonstrate any costs you’ve incurred because you were bitten by a dog.
As well as providing proof for your claim, your solicitor will ask you for a statement of what happened and how you’ve suffered. As such, it may be a good idea to keep a diary of events and to record any dates that your injuries stopped you from working or carrying out your usual activities.
Dog bite claims time limits
Dog bite claims have a 3-year time limit in the same way as other personal injury claims. If you begin the claims process too late, you may miss out on any compensation you’re entitled to. As such, we would suggest that you contact us sooner rather than later if you do decide to claim.
If you start your claim swiftly, it will usually make it much easier to secure any evidence needed to prove what happened. Also, it will allow plenty of time for medical reports to be obtained.
Importantly, the 3-year time limit is not relevant in cases where a child was bitten by a dog. In this scenario, a responsible adult can claim at any point before the child’s 18th birthday. See our FAQs below.
Where possible, your solicitor will try to secure funds from the defendant to cover the cost of plastic surgery or private treatment before the claim is finalised. For straightforward cases where liability for your injuries is accepted early, you could be awarded compensation in as little as 6 months. However, more complex cases or those that are contested could take longer than a year.
No Win, No Fee dog bite claims
Our solicitors realise that any form of financial risk associated with a dog bite claim can be off-putting. So, any dog bite claims that they take on are handled on a No Win, No Fee basis.
As a result:
- You won’t be asked to pay any upfront solicitor’s fees.
- If you are not compensated, you don’t have to pay your solicitor.
- You’ll only pay your solicitor’s success fee if compensation is awarded.
So that you have everything in black and white, you and your solicitor will both sign a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) before work begins on your case. This contract will confirm exactly what work your solicitor will do and when you’ll need to pay them. As mentioned above, a success fee will only apply if your case is won. This is a percentage of any settlement amount that’s paid. See our page on success fees.
To see if one of our solicitors could represent you on a No Win, No Fee basis, please contact us today.
Start a dog bite compensation claim today
Thank you for reading our article on dog bite claims. We hope it has been helpful. If you have now decided to take action and begin a claim, the easiest way to start the process is to call us on 0800 652 1345.
If your claim is accepted after it’s been reviewed, your solicitor will:
- Deal with the defendant or their insurer on your behalf.
- Collect and collate evidence to support the claim.
- Try to counter any objections raised by the defendant.
- Attempt to secure the highest amount of compensation possible.
- Work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
If you’d like to know anything else about dog bite claims, please use live chat or request a claims consultation here.
Can I claim compensation on behalf of a child who has been bitten by a dog?
Witnessing or finding out that your child has been bitten by a dog will be particularly upsetting. After their injuries have been treated, you may decide to claim compensation on their behalf. To do so, you will need to become their litigation friend.
This process is something that our solicitors can help you to set up. Once approved by a court, you’ll represent your child and deal with solicitors for them. If the claim is successful, any compensation offer will be reviewed by the court and held in a trust account until the child turns 18 years old. As their litigation friend, you can request funds to be released on their behalf so long as you explain to the court what they will be used for.
Can I claim compensation for a dog attack abroad?
If you are bitten in an attack by a dog abroad, you should try to get medical attention as quickly as possible. As well as having your bite treated, you may be offered antiviral drugs to protect against rabies or similar conditions. Our holiday accidents abroad guide might be useful in this instance.
Who pays compensation for dog bite injuries?
It is worth considering how dog bite compensation claims are paid. Generally, if you decide to sue the dog’s owner, your claim will be made against their home or pet insurance policy. If your dog bite claim is accepted, your solicitor will liaise with the defendant’s insurers to try and negotiate a settlement on your behalf.