Every year, around 6,000 people are injured so badly that they need treatment from an NHS facility as a result of a dog attack. Fatal dog attacks may seem like they are regularly in the news, but this risk is smaller than many think, with only two instances of fatal dog bites recorded in the UK over 2010.
It is very unlikely that the figure of 6,000 accurately reflects the number of people who suffer personal injuries from dog bites. The NHS estimates that only around 5% of all dog bites are reported, showing that the problem of dog bite personal injury claims could be as high as 120,000 every year.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
Because of the health and safety risks certain breeds of dog are said to have, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 banned the sale, exchange and breeding of a number of dog ‘types’. These are:
– Pitt Bull Terrier
– Dogo Argentino
– Fila Brasilerio
– Japanese Tosa
The health and safety law also covers crossbreeds of these dogs. Courts judge dogs’ particular characteristics to determine whether they match the characteristics of prohibited types.
However, all breeds of dogs are seen in personal injury claims, and many have argued that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is not fit for purpose, saying that it is not the wrong ‘type’ that makes a dog dangerous, but the wrong owner. Dogs can cause a huge range of injuries to people, including scarring, disfigurement, infection, broken bones, brain damage and other physical injuries, as well as psychological problems, which can be long-term.
The government is to introduce new penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs. In England and Wales over 2014, laws will be changed that will see the maximum penalty for owning a dog involved in a fatal attack reach 14 years in jail, from its current figure of two years, while owners of dogs that cause personal injuries to other people will receive up to five years in jail. People whose dog kills or injures an assistance dog will also receive a maximum sentence of three years, with the remit for this law extending into dog owners’ homes.
Claiming dog attack personal injury compensation
It is easier to claim personal injury compensation if you receive medical treatment immediately and collect the contact information of any witnesses and the owner of the dog. You should also speak to the police and keep hold of any documentation or crime reference numbers they give you. Take photographs of any injuries or damage that the dog caused and retain any receipts or bills that show your financial losses.
Then, tell personal injury solicitors how you were attacked by the dog and the circumstances surrounding the incident to receive clear and specialist assistance and advice. You will find it hard to make a personal injury claim without the help of experts, and solicitors should be able to provide you with no-obligation guidance and information.