Injuries caused by dogs

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

  • Injuries caused by dogs
  • Dog’s previous behaviour
  • Claim under the Animals Act 1971
  • Keeper of the dog
  • Liability—dangerous species
  • Liability—non-dangerous species
  • Claim in negligence
  • Guard dogs
  • CICA claims for dog injuries?

Injuries caused by dogs

Dog’s previous behaviour

For most canine claims, the dog’s behaviour in the past is all-important.

In a claim in negligence, the claimant must prove that the defendant should have foreseen the risk of injury and taken reasonable steps to prevent it. If the owner had no reason to anticipate the behaviour, it will not be possible to establish blame.

The dog’s history will also be important in a personal injury claim brought under section 2(2) of the Animals Act 1971 (AA 1971) where it is alleged that the dog has displayed behaviour that is abnormal for the dog’s species. Unless there is evidence that the defendant keeper (or keeper’s employee or member of the keeper’s household who is under 16) knew about the dog’s abnormal behaviour before the injury was sustained, the claimant will not be able to satisfy AA 1971, s 2(2)(c).

Evidence of previous incidents may be available from the police if there is a history involving the dog. Alternatively, neighbours, postmen or regular delivery people may know if a dog has a history of aggression.

If a defendant (usually the owner but can be a person in charge of the dog) has been convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA 1991) for keeping a banned breed or allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control, the conviction can provide support to

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