Can I Make A Claim For Personal Injury Caused By An Animal?
Posted on 22nd May 2020
Many people believe that an injury caused by an animal is just bad luck and there isn’t a way to make a claim against an animal. Whilst this is, in the literal sense, true and you can’t make a dog or a horse attend the local County Court, there is a legal obligation on the owner or handler of an animal to ensure that it cannot injury anyone. This duty is not a new one and was brought into its current being in the Animals Act 1971.
What sort of injuries can you claim for?
If the injury was caused by negligence or carelessness on the part of the owner or handler of the animal, you can make a claim. Usually, the most common injury that is claimed for is a bite, usually from a dog, whether an actual attack or just from an over-excited animal. Other types of injuries can be Road Traffic Accidents caused by loose animals, crush or trample injuries from larger animals like horses and cows whilst moving them individually or as a herd or injuries caused by animals that are known to be ‘over-excitable’ or ‘feisty’. This is a varied field of law and if you have been injured by an animal, please contact MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor in Garstang, to discuss your claim in more detail.
Who actually pays any money out for Personal Injury Claims involving animals?
The onus is on the owner to make payment of any damages and legal fees, however, with pet, farming, employer’s liability and a variety of other ‘bolt-on’ or inclusive insurance policies available, there is nearly always an insurance policy that will cover the value of your award and your legal fees. For example one of the personal injury solicitors from our Garstang office recently pursued a case against an individual where their home insurance had an insurance extension that not only funded a solicitor for the Defendant, but also covered the cost of the award to our client and our legal fees.
Will the animal responsible be punished or ‘put down’?
No, this is very rare and the vast majority of animal behaviour is not malicious, which is why the Law looks to the owner to be responsible. Only in instances where an animal, usually only dogs, has a repeated history of unprovoked attacks against humans would the matter be referred to the Police and then onwards for an assessment of the animal. MG Legal are a firm of animal lovers, just look at the “our people” section on our website and see our Business Consultant, Dave.
To put this in perspective, several years ago MG Legal once pursued a claim against a Law Enforcement Agency for a dog bite, where a trained dog accidentally bit a passer-by during the pursuit of a suspected criminal. MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor in Garstang, successfully settled the claim against the Law Enforcement Agency, obtaining an award for our client and recovering costs and the dog is still, to this day, an active member of that Law Enforcement Agency. We have also settled claims against Safari Parks and Farms and just like the credits in many films we can categorically say “no animals were harmed in the settlement of these cases”.
What if I work with animals and I was injured by an animal at work?
Your employer still has a duty to keep you safe in your place of employment. This means providing you with proper equipment such as gloves, boots, overalls, goggles or masks to protect against smaller species that can bite, or by ensuring that there are enough people available to handle moving larger animals or herds of animals.
There are countless farms where it is necessary to approach livestock either individually or as a herd and so, if you are asked to do so without adequate assistance or equipment and you are injured, there is a basis for a case against them. Much the same as if you are asked to move a herd of cows, there should be enough people and/or vehicles to facilitate the move safely.
Zoos and wildlife parks, both large and small, are exponentially increasing in past years and can house some very dangerous animals, from miniscule spiders to big cats and rhino, all can inflict damage in their own way, simply because they are instinctively geared towards protecting themselves. Your employer, whatever your role and whether your job brings you into contact with the mundane or the exotic, still owes you a duty of care, specifically under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and if they do not adhere to these Regulations, you may well be able to make a claim.
What if the animal that cause the road traffic accident had escaped from a farm?
Farmers and owners of any livestock have a duty to keep their animals safe from harming themselves, and, the public. What this means, is that they are duty bound to maintain fences and gates in order to keep their animals from escaping onto the roads and carriageways, and causing road traffic accidents, and injury to others.
Likewise, if animals such as cows, sheep, pigs etc escape from farmland, and cause damage to property, the farmer would be liable to pay costs and damages to the property owner, without the property owner having to prove how the animals escaped, even if a walker has left the gate open.
The test is one of foreseeability, and taking reasonable steps once you have taken risk assessments. It is, for example, quite foreseeable that animals will escape through an open gate, and people, walkers, and the like, will often leave a farmer’s gate open. The duty differs is malicious damage has allowed animals to escape and cause damage. The courts have, for example ruled that there was no breach of duty by a farmer whose animals escaped, causing damage to property, after his wire fence had been intentionally cut.
What if I was injured walking through a farmer’s field?
The answer to this question is quite close to home; literally. Whilst this matter wasn’t run by one of MG Legal’s Preston personal injury solicitors, the case does relate to a case that was heard in Preston County Court, some time ago, in 2009. The case was settled after the Judge ordered that injuries sustained to a walker in the farmer’s field, by a herd of cows, were foreseeable, and preventable if the farmer were to build a fence, or to move the animals, which were with their calves, to another field; one that walkers did not have right to access. The farmer had a duty to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to walkers under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957.
What can I claim for after a Personal Injury caused by an animal?
Like every other type of Personal Injury claim, you can seek to recover any losses or additional expenses incurred as a result of the incident. Generally speaking these include Lost Earnings, Medical Expenses, Transport Costs, Care Costs and in the case of Road Traffic Accidents caused by animals, repair costs and replacement hire costs for your vehicle.
How do I make a claim for Personal Injury caused by an Animal?
Contact MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor in Garstang, to discuss your claim and we will carry out an initial assessment straight away. We aim to accept all cases on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis to ensure that you have the access to the legal representation you need. Call, email, use our web-contact form or see us at one of our offices is Garstang, Lancaster or Longridge and we will aim to have the ball rolling the same day.
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