Injuries caused by animals—alternative causes of action

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Injuries caused by animals—alternative causes of action
  • Negligence
  • Occupiers’ liability
  • Trespass against the person
  • Nuisance

Injuries caused by animals—alternative causes of action

For guidance on claims brought under the Animals Act 1971 (AA 1971), see Practice Notes: Liability under the Animals Act 1971—dangerous species and Liability under the Animals Act 1971—all other animals. This Practice Note will consider the other possible causes of action.

For an overview on which causes of action may be applicable, see Practice Note: Types of claim involving animals.


The normal principles of negligence apply to people who own or control animals. All people in charge of their animals are under a duty to take reasonable care to prevent injury to others.

Actions in negligence are still important as it can be difficult to satisfy the conditions required for liability under the AA 1971.

The scope of any duty of care depends on the particular circumstances including the previous behaviour of the animal, its capacity to harm, and the circumstances of the injury.

The injury caused by the animal must be foreseeable. This will depend on the facts of each case, although the particular sort of injury does not have to be foreseen.

Where a pack of Jack Russell terriers escaped (without difficulty) from the defendant’s premises and caused serious injury to a small boy playing in the adjoining yard by biting him, liability was established. The exact type of injury did not have to be foreseen as the child could have

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