Introduced in 1971, the Animals Act imposes strict liability on animal owners in case of animals causing any damages or injuries by biting. So, if you are bitten by their dog, is your neighbour liable?
This act separates animals into two types, dangerous or non-dangerous animals. Dangerous animals like lions, bears or tigers, for example, represent a clear threat unless they are kept in a safe place. If a lion was to escape from his zoo enclosure and subsequently cause damage or an injury by biting someone, the zoo owner would be held liable for those damages and injuries.
Matters are a little more complicated in cases when someone is injured by an animal attack involving an animal typically classed as non-dangerous, like a pet dog, for example. Here, answering the question ‘Is your neighbour liable?’ would necessitate showing that:
- The damage or injury was of a kind and severity likely to be caused by the animal unless restrained
- The likelihood of damages and of injuries being severe was increased by a specific animal’s characteristics even if not normally found in the particular species or only under specific circumstances or at particular times
- The animal’s owner, or person in charge of the animal at the time of the animal attack, was aware of the animal’s specific characteristics
In order to make a successful claim under the non-dangerous animals act, it is necessary to show all three of these criteria are met.
Considering the potential ambiguity in the second criterion and relative subjectivity of the third, getting expert legal advice is highly recommended.
Animal specific acts
There are also varying other, more animal specific acts to protect the public against attacks by dangerous animals, for instance, the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.
Is your neighbour liable?
The question ‘If you get bitten by your neighbour’s dog, is your neighbour liable?’ can subsequently be answered with ‘Yes’, just as they would be liable for preventable injuries by slips, trips and falls on their property. Although things may be a little different if you were bitten by a dog while trespassing on or breaking into someone’s property.
Making a claim
If you were bitten by a dog or injured by a slip, trip or fall on your neighbour’s property through no fault on your part, we, Accident Advice Helpline, have both the necessary skills and experience to help you make a successful public liability claim.
Enlist our assistance by calling 0800 689 0500, or should you choose to call from a mobile, 0333 500 0993, now.
Date Published: April 29, 2016
Author: Accident Advice