Ministers discuss dangerous dog law
MPs have suggested that proposed changes to UK dangerous dog laws need to go further in order to alleviate the risk of attacks.
Since 2007, eight people have been killed by dangerous dogs in private residences, and often the police cannot legally place the blame on anyone for these attacks. In total, there are around 200,000 dog attacks in England every year, a figure which includes dog bites, and this has led to calls for a review of legislation that was last looked at in 1991.
The biggest proposed change would see owners liable to prosecution if their dog attacks someone in their own home, i.e. a ‘private property’. At present, they can only be held to account if their dog is found to be out of control in a public place or private land where they are not permitted, for example the property of a neighbour.
Commons environment committee members proposed increasing the minimum jail term for owners responsible for a dangerous dog from six months to two years.
Additionally, they indicated they wished to see more done to target badly behaved animals and their owners earlier in order to reduce the risk of incidents further down the line.
However, the committee also stressed that it was important to look at all circumstances, such as ensuring owners would not be liable if a dog owner attacked an intruder on their property. However, even this has its own problems, as it may be that someone has trespassed by mistake, for example a child retrieving a ball from a garden.
What to do if you are a victim of dog attacks
Dog bites are a common cause of personal injury claims, and naturally they vary in severity. If it can be shown that the owner of the dog that attacked you failed to properly control the animal, you could be entitled to compensation.
Until any proposed change to the law is passed, this only applies if the attack occurs in a public place. It is also further complicated by the many rules surrounding certain breeds of dog. Certain dogs are classified under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 as dangerous, and as such may be required to be muzzled, neutered, tattooed, registered, insured or micro-chipped. This means you are likely to be awarded higher compensation if you are attacked by one of these animals.
Much like any personal claim, your case will be assessed on a number of factors. For example, you may have missed out on earnings due to a forced absence from work, while for more severe injuries you may need to be compensated for the cost of medical treatment.
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors have helped many victims of dog bites, so you can contact us at any time and ask about the possibility of making a claim.