Injuries caused by animals straying onto the highway

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

  • Injuries caused by animals straying onto the highway
  • Issues to consider
  • Case law

Injuries caused by animals straying onto the highway

The Animals Act 1971 is referred to as AA 1971.

Issues to consider

Most cases involving animals straying onto the highway will be decided under the law of negligence. A claim could also be brought in public nuisance but this is unlikely to add much to a claim in negligence. This is because in order to create a public nuisance the defendant must have committed an act or omission which causes the animals to be able to stray on to the highway in the first place. In addition, some cases have succeeded under AA 1971.

There is a duty on anyone who keeps animals in a field next to a road to take reasonable care to prevent their escape in order to prevent a danger to road users. The ordinary principles of negligence apply to this duty. In deciding what precautions are reasonable the court will weigh the risk of an accident and its likely severity against the cost of preventing that risk from happening. This will be decided on a case by case basis. There used to be an ancient common law rule which meant there was no duty to prevent your animals straying on to a public highway but this was abolished by AA 1971.

There is a defence under AA 1971, s 8(2) where the animals have strayed

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