Dog Bite Injury Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a dog bite injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a dog bite injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
In our guide to claiming
dog bite injury compensation:
How common are dog bites?
Although serious attacks involving dogs are periodically reported in the press, the actual number of such incidents is small.
A study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) estimated that around 1/4 of Britain's population have been bitten by a dog. This statistic includes everything from nips requiring no medical treatment, to serious bites. Approximately 0.5% of dog bites required hospital admission.
There is evidence from both the NHS and the Royal College of Surgeons that dog bites are increasing, however, but this may be a result of people being more likely to seek medical advice following a bite.
The increasing popularity of smaller breeds may also account for a rise in incidents. It has been suggested that these breeds are assumed to be less dangerous, but they can potentially still inflict serious injuries and permanent scarring.
Typical dog bite injuries include finger amputations and lacerations to the limbs and face, resulting in permanent scarring or nerve damage. There may also be a risk of contracting tetanus or other infections through deep puncture wounds.
In addition to physical injuries, many people attacked by dogs also sustain psychological trauma.
The Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA) introduced breed-specific legislation (BSL) - a ban on the ownership of certain breeds that were regarded as more dangerous than others (including Pit Bull Terriers and Japanese Tosas). However, the Act also recognised that any breed of dog (however usually placid and friendly) might attack a person.
Section 3 of the DDA 'Keeping dogs under proper control' makes it an offence for any dog to be dangerously out of control, anywhere, including its own home.
What if the dog attack happened on its owner's premises?
More than a third of all dog attacks are sustained by postal workers and delivery drivers in the course of their employment, with the Royal Mail reporting 2,600 attacks on its staff in the last year. Dog attacks on postal workers increase by around 10% during the summer months when dogs are loose in gardens.
As dogs are territorial animals, even the best-behaved may become aggressive if they feel they or their family are threatened by someone entering their property. However, this is no defence for an owner whose dog attacks someone on that property. Since May 2014, when the DDA was amended to extend the legislation, it has been an offence for a dog to be out of control on private property as well as in a public place. This includes front and back gardens and yards.
All homeowners have a duty of care to those who are lawfully visiting their property and are therefore liable for any injury to postal workers, delivery drivers or any other visitors, caused by their dog attacks. A successful claim will involve demonstrating the owner was negligent in that duty of care.
What if the dog's owner cannot be identified?
Anyone sustaining an injury through a dog attack has a right to claim compensation. If a dog is running loose, it may be impossible to establish who the dog belongs to or who is responsible for keeping the dog under control. Where there is no one to bring a claim against, it may be possible to make a claim from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
Do I have a dog bite injury claim?
As a basic rule, you can make a dog bite injury claim if you sustained an injury:
- within the last three years, and;
- another person was to blame, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Do I have a claim? - Common questions
What if a child was injured?
The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.
A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a dog bite injury claim on their own behalf.
Can I make a dog bite injury claim right up to the three-year limit?
Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on a dog bite injury claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. The panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.
The amount of money you could claim for your dog bite injury will depend on:
- the extent of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your dog bite injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after a dog bite injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?
If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.
The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.
General damages for a serious leg injury can be £40,000
For a more minor hand injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £3,000.
However, if you have a serious leg injury and a more minor hand injury, you would typically receive £40,000 + a reduced percentage of £3,000.
Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries. Read more about multiple injury claims.
What is the average injury compensation for a dog bite injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a dog bite injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your dog bite injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Calculate my dog bite injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a dog bite injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your dog bite injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a dog bite injury claim take?
How long it can take to settle a dog bite injury claim can vary significantly.
For instance, a straightforward liability accepted injury claim could be settled in a couple of months. If liability is denied by the dog owner however, the process might take significantly longer. Usually, an accident claim takes between 6 and 9 months. See more: How long will my claim take?
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your dog bite injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
No win, no fee - the facts
With a no win, no fee agreement (known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make a dog bite injury claim without having to worry about upfront legal fees. If your dog bite injury claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a dog bite injury claim - even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my dog bite injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my dog bite injury claim?
If your dog bite injury claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Why do most solicitors charge 25%?
25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. dog bite injury claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Dog bite injury FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make a dog bite injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the dog bite injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your dog bite injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a dog bite injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim dog bite injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a dog bite injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
Jonathan Speight, Senior litigator
About the author
Jonathan has over 30 years' experience in the personal injury sector and has been awarded the rank of Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).