Public Liability Claims

Dog and Animal Attacks

Dog and Animal Attacks

Pet owners owe you a duty of care to exercise reasonable skill and care in controlling their animal to avoid the risk of injury to you. This includes, particularly, ensuring the animal is restrained from biting you or from acting in a way that causes injury. Therefore, if you have been injured due to the actions of uncontrolled animal, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and loss that you have suffered.

What should I do after suffering an injury to a dog or animal attack

It is important that you do following at the time or after your incident

  • focus on your injury

Seek first aid, if necessary: even a minor injury can become a lifelong condition without proper initial medical treatment.

Request for an ambulance to be called or attend an emergency department, if necessary.

At this stage, it is best to forget about any potential compensation claim you may have as a result your incident and concentrate on your health.

  • report your incident

You must tell the Local Council where your incident occurred and what caused your injury. The Local Council has authority to prosecute animal owners that fail to control their pet and allow it to cause injury.

Request that an “incident report” be completed and request a copy for your records.

  • take photos and video of the area of your incident and of ask witnesses for their contact details

Contemporaneous evidence of the site of the incident location, circumstances and your incident and injuries provide invaluable assistance to the preparation of a public liability compensation claim. You can never have too much evidence, and if ever in doubt it is better to take a photo or make a record of it.

 – Example

If you are attacked by a dog in a park or public area, take photos of the area of the attack and, if possible, the dog and its owner. Obtain the contact details of the owner of the animal if possible. Ask witnesses for their contact details so that their knowledge of the attack can be used as evidence.

  • make your own record of the circumstances of your incident as well as of all your symptoms

It is important that you keep an up-to-date list of your all your symptoms, whether on paper, computer or your smartphone.

Treatment providers do not often record all your symptoms and complaints and often concentrate on what is serious at the time. The passage of time can make what seemed like a minor injury in the initial post incident period a long-term, debilitating condition. If there is no record of such injury or associated symptoms in your treating clinical notes, it will be difficult to attribute this injury to the incident. In the alternative, you can record video footage of you discussing your symptoms.

  • go to your general practitioner or hospital

You may have already been to see your general practitioner or received hospital treatment, however, you need to listen to your body and attend on your general practitioner or hospital as many times as you think fit. This is important, as if, for example, you only sought medical treatment once, the defendant or insurer to your claim will argue that you do not suffer from any ongoing problems or disabilities, because if you did you would have sought frequent medical treatment.

When will a dog or animal owner be liable in negligence?

In Victoria, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (VIC) provides Local Councils with the authority to prosecute a pet owner for allowing the pet to cause injury to another person. If the Council successful prosecutes the pet owner for allowing the animal to cause another person injury, the owner is also liable for any loss and damage caused by the attack.

If the Local Council does not prosecute the pet owner, it must be proved that the animal had a history or propensity to act in the same way as is it did when it caused a person injury for the owner to be considered liable in negligence for any injury caused by it.

 – Example

The most common incident is an attack by a dog by biting which causes injury.

In such cases, the Local Council must either successfully prosecute the dog owner or it must be proved that the dog has a history of biting others. In the latter case, evidence must be given by other people who have been previously injured due the same dog biting and attacking others.

Successfully bringing a claim against an animal owner can be difficult. A further consideration is whether the owner has insurance to cover any compensation awarded to an injured person, or assets available to cover the compensation. With our expertise we can advise you of your prospects of success and obtain the best evidence to support a successful claim.

Contact us today, and start with a free consultation by click “Make a Booking” to receive our preliminary expert advice.  

Key Contact .

Jonathan Coyle
Founding Partner
Laura Green
Special Counsel