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The Law on Dog Attacks by Ellidh Clark

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The Law on Dog Attacks by Ellidh Clark

"A dog is man's best friend," they say and we at Complete Clarity Solicitors agree. But even our closest companions can pose risks. You, your loved ones, or even innocent bystanders may be at risk of injury from dogs. In this video, we'll explore dog bite claims in Scotland.

RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP

The popularity of pet ownership has been steadily rising, with the pandemic amplifying this heartwarming trend. These furry companies have brought joy and comfort during challenging times, making them invaluable allies in reducing stress and loneliness.

However, it is important to remember that dogs are social animals, and concerns have been raised about the limited socialisation experiences of our beloved lockdown pups. This, combined with the surge in dog ownership, has unfortunately lead to a troubling increase in dog bites and attacks. You might have seen recent media reports highlighting these distressing incidents that have resulted in serious injurious or even fatalities.

At Complete Clarity Solicitors, we believe in and promote responsible dog ownership. It is essential to acknowledge that it is not just large dogs that can cause injuries; even the smallest dog can inflict serious harm.

THE LAW

So, what does the law say about dog bite injuries? In Scotland, the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 holds dog keepers accountable. They are "strictly liable" if the injury resulted from biting, savaging, attacking, or harrying. The keeper is held liable to pay compensation without the need to prove negligence.

However, strict liability does not apply if the victim provoked or encouraged the dog to attack. This means rough play or actions that lead to the dog biting as self-defence are exceptions.

OWNER vs KEEPER

It is important to note that the Act refers to "keepers" rather than "owners." This distinction can determine who's liable for the injuries. For instance, if a professional dog walker is in charge of a dog, they are the keeper at that time and they will be responsible for any injuries inflicted by a dog in their care.

DEFINING DANGER

For the Act to apply, the animal must belong to a species known for its physical attributes or habits likely to cause severe injury, harm, or damage. Dogs fit this definition, making keepers strictly liable, even if the dog was previously non-violent.

CLAIMING COMPENSATION

While the law is clear about criminal prosecution for dog attacks, civil actions can be more complex. If you are injured due to a dog attack, you can potentially claim compensation and Clarity Simplicity is here to help you do so. However, it is important to remember that success is not guaranteed.

Making a dog bite compensation claim typically involves two scenarios:

  1. If the keeper is a private individual, the claim is made against their home insurance.
  2. If the keeper is a professional service provider (again, such as a dog walker), the claim goes against their professional insurance. If no insurance is found, the claim may revert to their home insurance.

Claims are more likely to succeed when the keeper has home or pet insurance covering the dog. Unfortunately, dog owners are not currently legally required to have insurance.

CICA CLAIMS

Some victims of dog attacks may also seeks compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority if they can demonstrate that the dog was used as a weapon. This requires evidence that the dog was intentionally set upon the victim by the keeper.

WHAT TO DO IF BITTEN OR ATTACKED

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, remember to:

  1. Identify the dog’s keeper at the time of the attack;
  2. Report the incident to the police;
  3. Contact eyewitnesses and gather their information;
  4. Document your initial injury and any scarring that develops as a result of the bite.

CONCLUSION

The law around dog attacks is intricate, so it is crucial to consult experienced solicitors who can guide you through the process. If you have questions or need assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Complete Clarity Solicitors who can help you through this challenging time.

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