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Injuries caused by Animals

What Injuries are caused by Animals?
Statistics suggest that more than 200,000 people are bitten by dogs each year in England and Wales, many of these resulting in injuries sufficient to warrant medical attention. Unfortunately, dog bite injuries are sometimes extremely serious and can even result in death. Common claims for compensation arise from: 

  • dog bites to neighbours 
  • dog bites to workers, such postmen or milkmen 
  • dog bites to children in a public place, such as the local park  

Certain breeds of dog are legally classified as ‘dangerous’ and are subject to specific regulation under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. These include Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas and any dog bred specifically for fighting. However, all dogs can be potentially dangerous, no matter what their breed or size. It is sadly too often reported by the media that large breeds of dog kept as family pets, such as Alsatians, Rottweilers or Staffordshire Terriers, can bite or attack humans, including young children. 

Horses are also a common cause of accidents resulting in personal injury. It is often underestimated how dangerous horses can be, and not just to those that participate in horse riding. Horse-related incidents can result in a wide variety of injuries, from soft tissue damage and broken bones to severe spinal or brain damage. Some types of incident that we hear about include: 

  • riders being injured due to faulty protective equipment, such as riding hats or saddles 
  • saddles and girths not being fixed securely, causing riders to fall 
  • riders being thrown from a horse, due to temperament 
  • vehicles being involved in road traffic accidents with horses in the road
  • riders being injured due to insufficient or inadequate instructor supervision 
  • injuries sustained at organised events, such as point to point and other race events 

Livestock are also a frequent cause of accidents resulting in injury. Animals such as cattle and sheep are usually docile creatures. However they have been known to attack and can cause injury intentionally due to their size and weight. Cattle may charge at humans if they feel threatened. Road traffic accidents can also occur due to the presence of livestock on the highway. 

What can I do?
If you have suffered a dog bite injury, consider reporting the incident to the local police or council. The police will ask you if you know who the dog belongs to and for their address. We would recommend that you retain this information for your own records as well. If you do report the incident to the police, make a note of the police reference number.

Seek medical advice as soon as possible for your injuries. 

If you find yourself in a threatening situation with a dog, guidance suggests you should stand still and avoid making eye contact with the animal. Running away usually prompts an aggressive dog to chase, which could make the situation worse. By remaining calm, the dog will hopefully lose interest. Do not leave children unsupervised with animals such as dogs. Animals such as horses have been known to cause accidents. 

To minimise the risk of serious injury when horse riding:

  • wear fluorescent items of clothing 
  • ensure that you wear proper and sufficient safety equipment, notably a good-quality riding hat 
  • learn to ride with a fully-qualified instructor 
  • follow any instructor or supervisor guidance 
  • be conscious of other road users, especially on rural roads and country lanes 

Many public footpaths run through fields where farmers keep livestock, especially cattle. If you are out walking and enter such a field, ensure that you heed any warning signs in place. Respect the presence of the animals and try not to walk too closely to them. For example, cattle can often feel threatened by unfamiliar human presence, especially when calving. Keep dogs firmly on a lead.

If you have suffered an injury caused by an animal, you may be able to make a claim for compensation against the owner or person responsible for the animal. 

If there are any witnesses to your accident, you should try to make a note of their name, address and contact telephone number.

We also recommend taking photographs of your injury, especially if you have suffered a biting injury. Always keep a note of any expenses you incur as a result of your injuries, including copies of receipts and invoices where available.

How can claiming for compensation help me?
If the personal responsible for the animal that caused your injury has public liability or pet insurance in place, you may be able to make a claim for compensation against that insurance policy. If there is no insurance available, it may be possible to pursue a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). 

Suffering an injury can have serious consequences for you and your family, with many people requiring time off work and having to survive on limited sick pay following an accident. Pursuing a claim will not only ensure that you are properly compensated for your injury, but will mean that you are reimbursed for any losses and expenses that you have incurred. This includes any lost earnings or future loss of earnings if your injury means that you have to take time off work or cannot return at all, as well as the cost of medical treatment and travelling to appointments. 

Claiming compensation will also give you access to the best rehabilitation and treatment providers to maximise your recovery following the accident. The NHS provides excellent care at the acute stage following an injury, but long term rehabilitation can be lacking. Making a successful claim for compensation will mean funding is made available for a range of expert input where appropriate.

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