Guide to Dog Bite Claims: Dog Attacks on the Rise Since Lockdown

Dogs are often considered as a ‘man’s best friend’ and over 34% of UK households own a pet dog. Many families find great companionship in their dogs. They can be a great help to those with mental health issues as well as helping to give families a healthier, outdoor lifestyle. It is therefore no wonder why we are a nation of dog-lovers.

Whilst most of the time dogs can be friendly, passive, and well-behaved, there are occasions where dogs will attack and the impact of this can be traumatising.

Dog bite injuries have doubled in 15 years with more than 10,000 people a year requiring hospital treatment. Previously there were around 2-3 dog related deaths each year, however in 2022 there were 6 deaths within the first quarter of the year.

We sadly hear about fatal dog attacks in the news every year, where young children, often babies or small toddlers are mauled by their family pets and are unable to recover from the attack. But attacks are far more frequent than you might think, and they are thought to be on the rise from the increased popularity of people getting dogs in lockdown and lack of training or social skills.

Often dogs will latch onto someone’s face, neck or arms which causes scarring and disfigurements that the victim has to live with for the rest of their lives.

It is not just bites that cause injuries. Scratches, knocking / tripping over, attacking livestock / other dogs, or running out into the road and causing a collision are other ways that many people end up hurt each year. There is also the traumatic injury caused by being attacked by a dog which can leave people with distress, anxiety and other psychological problems long after the attack itself.

 

How to Claim Compensation

If you or someone in your household has been hurt by a dog attack or incident involving a dog, then you may wish to seek compensation once you are on the road to recovery.

Scenarios that could lead to a successful claim include:

  • Being attacked or bitten by an unknown dog in a public place
  • Being attacked or bitten by a dog in your place of work
  • Being attacked or bitten by a working dog, such as a guard dog
  • Someone who works with animals being attacked, such as a vet, dog walker or groomer
  • A tradesperson or delivery driver being attacked on someone else’s property
  • Being attacked or bitten by an escaped dog in your garden or in your property

A severe dog bite can cause a great deal of pain and suffering, it can result in unsightly scarring and cause emotional distress. Deep bites can cause nerve damage and impact people’s quality of life. If you have needed to take time off work, have scarring, had to undergo surgery, treatment, physiotherapy or have counselling then these could all be strong indicators for a compensation claim to be made.

If you have been hurt by a dog that was not yours, then you could claim compensation from the owners of the dog, those responsible for it or from the insurance if they have insurance in place.

The amount of compensation you are entitled to will depend on the seriousness of the injuries and how much they have impacted your ability to work, carry out day-to-day tasks or enjoy pastimes. It could range from under £5,000 for a more minor injury to a hand or limb or considerably higher for an injury that involves loss of a finger, facial scarring or nerve damage.

A claim can help towards the cost of private medical treatment, cosmetic surgery or therapy. It can also cover any lost earnings from being unable to work or having to act as a carer for an injured family member. Whilst it cannot take away what has happened, it can help relieve you of some of the psychological impact and the pain and suffering from the attack.

To speak to a legal professional about a ‘no win, no fee’ claim, please call our Personal Injury team on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com. Our friendly and understanding team will take all the necessary details, discuss the process and can advise you if we can help with your claim.

You have 3 years from the date of the incident in which to bring a claim, but it is highly recommended that you start as soon as possible, as claims can take some time to progress.

 

What to do if you have been bitten by a dog?

If you or someone you know has been attacked by a dog and suffered injury, then it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Make sure your wounds are examined by a professional to avoid infection, scarring and a longer recovery time. Often stitches are required for dog bite wounds, surgery or further treatment may be needed in serious cases. If you have not had a tetanus or rabies vaccine within the last 10 years, they you may be advised to have one to avoid illness transmission.

It may be difficult to do so at the time of the incident, but it is important to try to get information from the dog owners or witnesses. If you have not been able to do so at the time, then you might need to appeal for witnesses at a later date. You should obtain a contact name, address and telephone number from the owner if they are willing.

Contact the police and your local authority’s dog warden to report the incident as soon as possible.

It can help your case to document everything and gather as much evidence as possible. Take note of the time and location, the breed / description of the dog. Make sure you take photographs of the injuries as they progress. If you can, try to obtain statements from any witnesses, gather photos or videos of the dog and the attack if you or someone else was able to get footage. If you were in a public place with CCTV, then obtain copies of this too. Write an account of what happened – this can be helpful to do whilst it is fresh in your mind, but you may need to come back to it if you are injured or struggling to remember all the details from the trauma.

Contact Lamb Brooks to discuss your case and get the ball rolling on a compensation claim.

Evidence to gather for your claim could include:

  • Photos and / or videos of the attack
  • Photos of your injuries
  • Photos of damaged clothing or belongings
  • Description of the dog – breed, colour, size and any distinctive markings, collar etc.
  • CCTV footage
  • Your written detailed account
  • Witness statements
  • Hospital or GP records
  • Prescriptions, GP letters, referrals to specialists etc.
  • Receipts for over-the-counter medicines, bandages etc.
  • Details of time taken off work
  • Details of any missed travel, events etc.
  • Details of all medical appointments including any counselling or physiotherapy
  • Parking payments, travel etc. regarding your injuries or medical treatment
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Legal Responsibility & The Dangerous Dogs Act

Dog owners or those handling other people’s dogs have a responsibility to prevent their dogs from becoming a danger and attacking other animals or people. There are laws to ensure that dogs are kept on leads in public places.

The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991 and several breeds that were deemed dangerous were listed. These include Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Mastiffs and Brazilian Mastiffs. Owners of breeds listed in the Act must meet strict requirements that include keeping the dogs muzzled in public and they must be chipped and insured.

It is important to understand that all dogs have the ability to be dangerous, not just ones listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act or those perceived to be larger, aggressive breeds or ‘status’ dogs.

 

Why do dogs attack?

Most of the time a dog will only attack when they feel startled, scared or have been antagonised in some way. It is very rare for a dog to attack unprovoked.

However, sometimes dogs will attack when they feel threatened or are protecting their owner or territory (think typical postman scenario where they see an intruder coming onto their property), they may bite whilst playing without realising their strength or get carried away with the playtime stimulation.

Dogs who have an underlying health condition, are in pain or have psychological issues can attack seemingly ‘out of nowhere’ due to their condition that owners or those interacting with the dog might be unaware of. There are a number of cases where normally friendly dogs have attacked, and it is later discovered that they had an infection or illness of some sort, or even an undiagnosed tumour.

It is thought that dog bites and attacks are on the rise now due to the increased popularity of people getting dogs during the Covid lockdowns. Owning a dog became more feasible when people were working from home as they didn’t need to worry about leaving them for long periods of time or investing in dog-walkers or day-cares. So, there is a general increase of dogs around in public now. This is also coupled with the issue of many of these ‘lockdown puppies’ being un-socialised, nervous or very protective of their owners, who they have become solely attached to.

To steer on the side of caution it is advised never to approach a dog that you don’t know, always ask the owner before petting, do not approach working dogs or those with coloured leads. A red or yellow jacket, leash or collar could mean that they are a nervous or unfriendly dog. A blue leash or collar could mean that they are an assistant dog or are in training. If you are adopting or buying a dog, thoroughly do your research on best-suited breeds and make sure you invest in training or dedicate time to train, socialise and control your dog yourself.

 

Tips for a Dangerous Dog Encounter

Some signs that dogs might be aggressive can include growling, snarling, baring their teeth or lunging towards you in sharp bursts. Often their body shape can change too, hairs can become raised, ears pinned back, and their tail could move to a vertical or arched over position. If you find yourself in a situation where a dog is acting aggressively, or you feel that they are about to attack you should:

  • Call out for help
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Move away slowly but do not turn your back
  • Try to get something between you and the dog
  • Try to remain calm – do not scream or flail around

 

Why Choose Lamb Brooks for Your Claim?

Lamb Brooks are a local firm of solicitors where each case is looked after by an expert that you have direct contact with. Unlike the large firms you might see on TV adverts, we handle claims in house via one dedicated person and their assistant, meaning that you have their direct email address and phone number.

We make decisions in house which means claims can be taken on quickly.

The team are highly experienced, with over 100 years of combined time working in the personal injury sector.

We only work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so you can rest assured that the person dealing with your claim fully believes that it will succeed and will fight your case all the way to ensure it does!

To speak to someone about a dog bite claim, or any other type of accident or injury you might have suffered that was not your fault, then please call 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or alternatively you can speak to our online chat assistant (who is a real person, not an AI bot) who can take your initial details and pass you onto the best person to handle your claim.



The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. The do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Lamb Brooks LLP
Victoria House
39 Winchester Street
Basingstoke
Hampshire
RG21 7EQ
01256 471 085

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