The following PI & Clinical Negligence guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
All animals except those that belong to a dangerous species (all non-dangerous animals) are governed by the same rules. There is sometimes strict liability for injuries caused by those animals, but only where special conditions are met. Unfortunately, the conditions are difficult to interpret.
Animals do not belong to a dangerous species if they are commonly domesticated. Most animals, including cats, dogs, cows, sheep and horses, are non-dangerous animals because they are often tamed or kept under human control. See: Liability under the Animals Act 1971—dangerous species—Which animals are classified as belonging to a dangerous species?
If there is strict liability, it will be imposed on the animal’s keeper. For further information on who qualifies as a keeper, see: Liability under the Animals Act 1971—dangerous species—Who is a keeper.
Other than incidents involving dogs, either biting or causing injury by rushing others, the most common incidents are those involving horses, typically throwing their rider.
Where damage is caused by an animal which does not belong to a dangerous species, three conditions must be satisfied:
the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which, if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe; and
the likelihood of the damage or of it being severe was due to the characteristics of the
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