Whether as an adult or a child, being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience. It can leave you with physical and psychological injuries that can stay with you for the rest of your life.
If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog in the last three years, a personal injury lawyer can help you make a dog bite claim.
This can give you the financial support you need to aid your rehabilitation and compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced.
It is the responsibility of all dog owners and handlers to control their dogs and prevent them from acting dangerously around other people. If they don’t do this, it can have devastating consequences.
Experienced dog bite solicitors can help you make a successful compensation claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This allows you to claim without any financial risk, as you won’t have to pay any legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful.
Having an experienced injury lawyer on your side will ensure your dog bite claim has the best chance of success. They will make sure they obtain the necessary evidence to build a strong case, and they will negotiate the best compensation settlement on your behalf.
Not sure if you can claim for a dog bite?
Don’t worry if you are not sure if you can claim for a dog bite. A trained legal adviser can assess your case and let you know if you may have a valid claim. Call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details to request a call back.
Injury lawyers can help in many different situations when people have been attacked or bitten by a dog, including:
- if you don’t know who owns the dog
- the dog owner does not have pet insurance
- you want to claim on behalf of a child or loved one
- you have been bitten by a police dog or a guard dog
If you would like to discuss making a dog bite compensation claim, call free on 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
Alternatively, continue reading our comprehensive guide below for further information about dog bites and the claims process.
What is a dog bite claim?
Dogs have been our loyal companions for thousands of years, and we certainly enjoy having them around. But, unfortunately, not all of them are disciplined and docile, leading to a significant number of dog bite claims each year.
Being bitten by a dog is undoubtedly a horrific and traumatic incident. Besides health threats and physical scarring, it can also leave the victim psychologically scarred.
If you are the victim of a dog attack, you may be entitled to file a dog bite claim. That means the owner will be held liable for their dog’s actions and will have to compensate for your injury.
A solicitor can assist you in a dog bite claim, including when:
- the dog owner has no pet insurance
- you cannot find who the owner is
- the victim is a loved one, such as your child or partner
To be able to make a dog bite compensation claim, your accident must meet the following requirements:
- it happened in the last three years
- the attack was not your fault
- it left you with an injury
What should I do if a dog has bitten me?
If you, or a loved one, has been bitten by a dog, it is crucial to seek immediate medical assistance. Even a scratch can lead to a bacterial infection and cause health complications. The wound needs proper cleaning, and you might require antibiotic treatment.
A severe dog attack may leave the victim scarred, disfigured, or maimed. You may require stitching, skin grafts, or surgery. Unfortunately, the physical scarring can sometimes be permanent.
If you get bitten by a dog, you should report it to the authorities. When it’s possible:
- ask for the dog owner’s details (name and address)
- find out the name and breed of the dog
- ask if the owner has pet insurance or home insurance
- if the police have been contacted, keep a note of the incident number
This information is valuable if you want to make a dog bite claim. It makes it easier for the solicitor to find details about the dog and its owner, speeding up the claim process.
Should you decide to claim dog bite compensation, you will need evidence of the dog attack. If you are out of danger, you should:
- take photos of the inflicted injury
- regularly photograph the progression of your recovery
- keep any clothing that you were wearing during the attack in an unwashed state
- if there were any witnesses, make sure to get their details for further statements
- write down the exact circumstances of the attack
- keep any receipts related to medical expenses
- obtain the medical record from your doctor or the hospital
Having the above evidence will help support your solicitor when making a dog bite claim. But don’t worry if you haven’t got this information, as a solicitor may still be able to help.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is legislation aimed at protecting the public from dangerous dogs and certain dog breeds. As part of the Act, some dog breeds were highlighted as dangerous, leading to controversy.
The breeds listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act as requiring special treatment are:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino (Argentinean Mastiff)
- Japanese Tosa (also known as Japanese Mastiffs or Fighting Dog)
- Fila Brasileiro (a Brazilian Mastiff)
It is currently illegal to own any of the above types of dogs in the UK. As well as being illegal to own these dogs, it is also against the law to sell, breed from, give away or abandon a banned dog.
Crossbreeds of these dogs may also be banned. The law is based on the dog’s characteristics rather than the specific name or breed. For example, if a dog has many of the same characteristics as a Dogo Argentino, it may still be considered a banned dog to own.
The police and council dog wardens have the authority to take away a banned dog, even if there has not been a complaint and the dog has not acted dangerously.
If you have been attacked or bitten by any of the dangerous dogs listed above, you would have an excellent case to make a dog bite compensation claim.
Of course, it is not just these dogs that can cause injury. All dogs have the potential to bite if they are not kept under control by their owners.
The focus should therefore be on the individual dog’s behaviour and the dog owner. Every dog owner must keep their dog under control in all circumstances. The Dangerous Dogs Act makes it illegal for dog owners to leave a dog of any breed dangerously out of control.
Dog owners must take the necessary precautions to safeguard other people from potential harm. Especially if their dog has shown signs of aggression in the past. Steps they may need to take include:
- using a muzzle
- keeping the dog separately when having visitors in their home
- keeping the dog on a leash
- taking training classes
You would stand a good chance of making a dog bite claim if you get bitten by a dog because of the owner’s negligence.
Common dog bite claims
A dog bite can happen at any time and in a wide variety of different settings. And it is not just dog bites that can lead to a personal injury claim.
You could also suffer an injury from being jumped on or knocked over by a dog that isn’t kept under control by its owner.
Examples of scenarios that could lead to a dog bite injury claim include:
- being bitten by a dog that is off its lead
- being bitten while delivering post to a premises
- being attacked by a dog that has escaped and entered your property or garden
- suffering a bite while working as a dog groomer or a vet
- being attacked by a dog that pulled free from a dog walker
If you suffer any type of injury because of a dog in a scenario like those described above, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
To have your case assessed by a legal adviser, call free on 0800 678 1410. Or you can enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back. The claim assessment is completely free, and you are not under any obligation to proceed.
Guard dog bites
Under the Guard Dogs Act 1975, an individual may use a guard dog to protect premises, a property, or a person acting as a guard on the premises. If you get bitten by a guard dog without being at fault, the owner will most likely be liable to pay you compensation.
If you are trespassing on a property or ignore clear warning signs, it is much less likely that you would be able to make a dog bite claim.
If you’re unsure whether you have a claim or not, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal advisor.
Being bitten by a stray dog
Stray dogs are usually friendly or distant towards people. But sometimes, they might become territorial or be starving and might attack passersby. If that happens, you might feel unsure about filing a dog bite claim, seeing that the dog has no owner.
However, in these situations, you might be able to claim dog bite compensation from those responsible for the area where you were bitten. Alternatively, a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) may be possible.
Claiming for a dog bite at work
People who work with dogs (such as vets, animal control officers and dog groomers) and those whose activities bring them into frequent contact with dogs (such as postal workers and police officers) are at higher risk of getting bitten than most other people.
Over a third of all dog attacks in the UK are sustained by delivery drivers and postal workers. The Royal Mail reported that 2,445 of its employees had been the victims of dog attacks in 2019/20.
The number of dog bites and attacks on postal workers is more common during the summer months, increasing up to 10%. This is primarily due to owners allowing their dogs to be loose in their gardens during dry and warmer months.
No matter what type of work you do, if you sustain a dog bite while at work, you could be entitled to make a claim. Your claim could either be made against the dog owner. Alternatively, you could claim against your employer if they failed to take the necessary precautions to provide you with a safe working environment.
In these situations, an experienced injury lawyer will be able to guide you on how best to proceed.
Dog attacks on children
When the victim of a dog attack is a child, it can be particularly shocking. Besides physical injuries, children most often experience emotional and psychological trauma. The responsibility remains with the dog owner, as they should take extra care of their dog around children.
If a dog bit your child, you could make a dog bite compensation claim on their behalf. A claim can be made at any point up until their 18th birthday.
After this date, when your child becomes an adult, they can claim on their own behalf. They would have until their 21st birthday to do this.
Whenever possible, it is recommended to start a claim sooner rather than later. Not only will this ensure you receive compensation quicker, but it can also often improve your chances of success. This is because it is easier to gather evidence, and it is more likely that your child will remember essential details about the dog attack and how it happened.
Who will a dog bite claim be made against?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you might be able to make a dog bite compensation claim. First, you will need to determine against who you are making your claim.
In most cases, your claim would be made against the dog owner. Most owners will have pet insurance that will cover them for claims made against them if their dog causes somebody a personal injury.
If they don’t have pet insurance, their home insurance policy will potentially cover a claim for a dog bite.
However, if a stray dog bites you, your claim could be made through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. To do this, you would need to ensure the incident has been reported to the police.
In some cases, it may even be possible to make a claim against the person or company responsible for the location where you were bitten. For example, if you were bitten by a dog in a business park, your claim could potentially be made against the owner of this premises.
If the dog attack happened at your workplace, you could make a work accident compensation claim against your employer. This is because your employer has a duty of care to provide you with a safe working environment.
Although you can make your claim within three years from the attack, it would be wise to do it as soon as possible. Thoroughly document your claim, as previously described, and report the incident to the police. This way, evidence to support your claim, such as witness statements, is still fresh and easier to obtain.
Ultimately, it is essential to consult a legal advisor. A solicitor will investigate your case, advising you on the next steps involved in your dog bite claim.
How can a dog bite claim help you?
Claiming for dog bite compensation can be the sensible thing to do, especially if you were the victim of a severe attack. Compensation can help you:
- pay for the medical treatment you might need as a result of your injury
- cover lost earnings from taking time off work
- cover expenses such as travel to GP and hospital appointments
- provide for therapy for any psychological trauma
- pay for necessary adaptations to your home or vehicle
If you have been bitten by a dog and suffered a personal injury, you deserve compensation.
Besides providing support for the victim, a compensation claim makes dog owners aware of the dangers their dog can pose to members of the public. This can push them to take the necessary actions to ensure public safety and prevent their dog from biting or attacking anybody else in the future.
How much can I receive from a dog bite compensation claim?
The amount of compensation you can get for a dog bite injury depends on:
- the nature and extent of your injuries
- any cost or financial losses you have incurred
Your solicitor will discuss with you and consider how the dog bite has impacted your life. This information will then be used to help your solicitor calculate how much compensation you should be entitled to claim.
If you go to court (very unlikely), the judge will assess the damages and determine how much compensation you receive.
Personal injury compensation is broken down into two separate parts:
- general damages
- special damages
The amount of compensation you are awarded for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) caused by your dog bite is known as general damages.
Solicitors use guidelines published by the Judicial College to determine the amount of general damages that should be awarded for different types of injury.
Following your accident, you may have suffered some financial losses or expenses. Compensation for these out of pocket expenses is known as special damages and will be taken into account by your solicitor.
Examples of financial losses and expenses that you can claim for as special damages include:
- Lost wages (including any future loss of earnings)
- Cost of prescriptions and medical treatment
- Rehabilitation costs, such as physiotherapy
- Travel costs to hospital or GP appointments
- Home or car adaptation costs
- Care costs
What is the average payout for a successful dog bite compensation claim?
Unfortunately, it is tough to give an average payout for a successful claim. This is because the impact of an injury, including dog bites, will vary massively from case to case.
As mentioned above, part of the compensation award is based on the financial losses and expenses you have faced (special damages). If your injuries leave you unable to work for several months, your compensation claim may be much higher than somebody who doesn’t miss any time off work.
Although we cannot give you an accurate figure regarding the total amount of compensation you could receive, we can provide an estimate based on general damages. This is the award for your pain and suffering.
According to estimates based on the Judicial College guidelines, you could get:
- up to £4,500 for a minor hand injury
- up to £7,400 for loss of a finger or a part of it
- up to £7,990 for a minor leg injury
- up to £11,040 for a moderate hip injury
- up to £58,000 for a severe hand injury with permanent loss of use
An online compensation calculator can provide a more accurate estimate of how much you could receive by making a dog bite claim. Keep in mind that if you were partially responsible for the incident, there would likely be a reduction in the compensation awarded.
How long do I have to make a claim?
You have three years to start legal proceedings from the date you were attacked or bitten by a dog. Once three years have passed, it is less likely that you will be able to make a dog bite claim.
After this date has passed, which is known as the claim limitation date, your dog bite injury claim would become statute-barred.
Courts do have the discretion to extend this claim period. But in reality, they would only do this in exceptional circumstances when you have a very good reason for not starting your claim within the time limit.
There are some exceptions to the three-year time limit, which are:
- if a child has been bitten by a dog
- if the injured person does not have the mental capacity to make a claim
- if a person is killed by a dog bite or attack
- you are claiming through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
Claims made on behalf of children
A parent or guardian can make a dog bite claim on behalf of their child at any point before their 18th birthday.
If a claim isn’t made on their behalf, the injured child can make their own claim once they turn 18. The three year time limit begins on their 18th birthday, giving them until their 21st birthday to start their dog bite compensation claim.
Claims made on behalf of someone lacking mental capacity
There are no time limits to claim on behalf of someone who is not mentally capable of handling the case on their own.
This situation may occur due to a pre-existing medical condition or due to the injuries sustained from the dog attack itself.
Fatal dog attacks
If your child or loved one died as a result of a dog attack, you have three years from the date they died to make a claim.
In some cases, it may not be established that the dog bite or attack caused the death until a post-mortem has been conducted. In this situation, the three year time limit would not begin until the date you were made aware of the post-mortem findings.
Claims made through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
Some dog bite claims will be made through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This might be the case if the dog’s owner is unknown or if you have been bitten by a stray dog.
With claims made through the CICA, you generally have up to two years from the incident date to start your claim.
What are the most common dog bite injuries?
Dog bites and dog attacks can cause many different types of injuries. These will range in severity. Some injuries will have a complete recovery, whereas others may result in permanent damage.
Some examples of common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Facial injuries
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Psychological injury
- Tetanus and other infections
The body area most commonly bitten by dogs is the hands and fingers, as the victims try to protect themselves from an aggressive dog. This can lead to lacerations, nerve damage, permanent scarring and even amputations.
The puncture wound caused by a dog bite is also susceptible to infections, and you may require a tetanus shot if you are not already up to date.
How long does a dog bite claim take?
There is no fixed period for how long it will take to settle a dog bite claim. The timeframe depends on the circumstances of your accident. If the case is very straightforward with liability accepted, it could resolve within two to three months.
However, it might take much longer, depending on various factors, such as:
- the dog owner doesn’t accept liability
- the severity of your injuries
- medical treatment requirements
- recovery time
- disputes regarding evidence
- difficulties negotiating compensation
You can usually expect most compensation claims to be concluded within around 6 to 9 months.
The best option to secure a successful dog bite claim is to seek professional guidance. You can call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Alternatively, enter your details to request a call back.
Making a No Win No Fee claim
If you get bitten by a dog, this can have a significant impact on your life. Even a minor wound can cause considerable pain and may require medical attention and medication.
In serious cases, you might need hospitalisation, surgery and even amputation. The recovery period can take months, and sometimes the scars never heal.
In most cases, you will need to take time off from work, school or college to recover from your injuries. This can cause massive disruption to your life, as well as leave you out of pocket.
The decision to make a dog bite claim is your best option. You will probably want compensation for all you’ve experienced. But you might be worried about spending a lot of money on a lawyer without the certainty you will win the case.
The No Win No Fee system for personal injury claims doesn’t require any upfront costs. A legal advisor will consult your case and determine if your dog bite claim has a good chance of being successful.
If you win the case, your solicitor will charge you a percentage of the compensation, up to a maximum of 25%. The process is fully transparent, and the fees depend on the work required to resolve your dog bite claim.
This removes the financial risk that is usually associated with taking legal action. If you don’t win your dog injury claim, the no win no fee service means you won’t have to pay any fees at all.
How should you treat a dog bite?
If a dog bites you or has bitten somebody else close to you, there are several steps you should ideally take to treat the injury. These steps should be taken as soon as possible after the injury is sustained to help prevent infections and improve the recovery process.
- Immediately clean the wound with warm running water. You should do this for at least 2 minutes, even if it appears that the bite hasn’t broken the skin.
- If there are any visible objects in the wound, such as dirt, hair or teeth, these should be removed.
- Unless the wound is already bleeding, you should encourage it to bleed by gently squeezing the inflicted area. This will help to clear the wound naturally.
- If there is a heavy bleed from the wound, apply pressure with a sterile dressing or a clean pad.
- Gently dry the area and then use a clean plaster or dressing to cover the wound.
- Go to a hospital or your GP to seek medical advice.
In some cases, it may not be possible to take all of the above steps. You may be bitten while out and about, without access to running water and dressings. You should aim to clean the dog bite wound and seek medical attention as quickly as possible in these circumstances.
Further information and advice on how to treat dog and other animal bites can be found on the NHS website.
Will I need to go to court to make a dog bite injury claim?
It is very unlikely you would need to go to court. Most claims, including dog bites, are settled out of court by solicitor negotiations.
In fact, only around 5% of personal injury claims end up in court. These are usually cases where liability for the accident is disputed, or the details of the claim are particularly complex.
As injury claims are civil cases, those that do end up going to court are not held in front of a jury. A judge will hear the case and make their decision.
Who can claim for a death caused by a dog bite?
Fortunately, deaths caused by a dog bite or attack and very rare. Between 2013 and 2019, there were 22 deaths due to dog bites or attacks recorded in England and Wales.
If one of your loved ones has lost their life due to a dog attack, you must get expert legal advice from an experienced injury solicitor.
This is particularly important if your loved one had any dependants that may be left in financial difficulty as a result of the accident. This could include a husband or wife, a civil partner or any children.
Although compensation is likely to be the last thing on your mind, it can help to ensure surviving family members are not left in financial hardship, such as not being able to pay rent or household bills.