Common misconceptions about dog bite law lead to victim injustice
Knowing the ins and outs of dog bite law may help you when it comes to making a dog bite compensation claim. This article ventures to lay out some common misconceptions of dog bite law and how understanding the law fully will aid many individuals, both dog owners and victims alike,in doing the right thing when it comes to making a claim. There is no need to feel overwhelemed by dog bite law – it is mostly common sense and if you do think you are entitled to claim money, then contact a solicitor right away.
There are two common misconceptions about dog bite law that are important for both dog owners and dog bite victims to bear in mind. Without a correct, basic knowledge of dog bite law, it could mean that if you sustain a dog bite, you will not seek or gain the right legal advice on the matter. With the following information, it is hoped that victims will be able to seek the justice they require and that is available from dog bite law.
The importance of gaining justice from the current dog bite law is paramount for a victim. Here is one example where justice is not served and a dog bite victim misses out on legal help and advice:
In November 2009, Steve a plumber from Glasgow, was called out to a flat occupied by three university students to fix a dripping kitchen tap. The students were all female and the flat was owned by the father of one of the young women. They kept a pet Dachshund in the flat. This Dachshund had never had any history of being dangerous and had never bitten another dog or human being before. Whilst the plumber was fixing the kitchen tap, the dog began to irritatingly nip the plumber’s ankles. Without wanting to cause offence to his customers, the plumber tried to ignore the dog and continue with his job. The irritating nips shortly began to turn into actual bites, until finally the Dachshund drew blood, causing a serious ankle injury. Steve was forced to abandon the job, as well as cancel any imminent work he had lined up for the near future, in order to allow his ankle wound to heal.
Steve not only suffered a physical injury, but as a self-employed plumber, he also missed out on a significant amount of money and work. After the injury, Steve contacted the owner of the dog, one of the students in the flat. He explained that he had been unable to take any work whilst his injury was healing. The student told Steve that she would get her father, a banker, to give Steve a call so that they could discuss the matter in more detail. A few hours later, Steve received a telephone call from the father who told him that since it was the pet dog’s first ever bite or act of dangerous behaviour, Steve would not be entitled to seek compensation or prosecute, taking into account the UK’s dog bite law. Feeling intimidated, Steve thanked the man for his time on the telephone and ‘wrote off’ the situation as bad luck.
What the Dachshund’s owner’s father quoted is the ‘One Bite Rule’. This is a mythical rule which states that if the dog a victim is bitten by has never bitten another human or dog, then its owner is untouchable legally. This is, in fact, incorrect and Steve would have done better to consult some proper legal advice rather than taking the dog owner’s father at his word. The fact is that the owner can be liable even if the injury caused is a ‘first bite’. Plumber Steve missed out on a possible compensation claim by not knowing his dog bite law facts.
An agitated Schipperke, a breed generally considered to be cute and friendly, had plagued a London apartment complex in Victoria for many years with its consistent, loud yapping and scratching at people’s leg. A young, female banker, living in the flat above the offending dog, had resorted to wearing earplugs to bed every night in a quest to gain a full night’s sleep. However, whilst standing in the building lift one morning in January 2010, the Schipperke and its owner got into the lift. The dog was yapping as usual, but then proceeded to tug at the young banker’s handbag. Pulling her handbag away from the mouth of the dog, the young woman’s hand slipped suddenly and the surprise movement prompted the dog to bite her hand. The young woman was forced to go to hospital. However, she did not seek legal advice because she had previously heard about the Dangerous Dog Act of 1991. Like many, the young woman was under the impression that claims could only be brought against owners of breeds that were classed as being ‘dangerous’ under this Act. She did not consider that the cute and cuddly Schipperke breed could be sued. The young lady may have missed out on a compensation claim by making this incorrect assumption.