Yes, you can. If they are under 18 years old you can act as a litigation friend on their behalf and help them pursue a dog bite claim for compensation. They have until their 21st birthday to make a claim. However, it is best to begin the process as soon as possible while evidence of the animal bite accident is more likely to be available.
How can I make a claim for a dog bite compensation?
You will need to prepare the following information for your case to be considered:
- Where and how the dog bite took place
- Are the characteristics of the dog known
- What breed of dog is it
- Was the dog bite reported to the police
- Does the owner have any pet insurance
- If the accident happened on the dog owner’s premises do they have any home insurance? If not do they have any other means to pay a judgment against them for compensation?
Under the Animals Act 1971 dogs are generally considered to be a non-dangerous species and there are a few limbs to satisfy to allow a successful claim under this act. It will need to be considered:
- If the dog is of a breed where a bite can cause severe injury unless restrained
- Does the dog have characteristics not normally found in dogs i.e. does it attack people holding carrier bags
- Was the bite due to a characteristic that is normal at particular times or circumstances, for example was the dog protecting its property or puppies, being hurt or teased. It will also need to be considered if the characteristics are known to the keeper.
Knowledge is key.
Can the claim be rejected?
There are circumstances under which a claim can be rejected. For example a claim is unlikely to be successful if your son provoked the dog or they were trespassing on your neighbour’s property.
In a situation where it can’t be proved that the owner had knowledge the dog might bite, for the claim to be successful it must be proven that it was reasonably foreseeable the dog would bite. An example of that may be the owner taking steps to find out the dog’s nature, had it recently been adopted from a rescue centre.
Are there any other ways I can pursue a claim?
There may be a claim if the matter was reported to the police and is a reported criminal offence allowing you to potentially pursue a claim through the criminal injuries compensation authority. The time limit for this is until your sons 20th birthday. Again we would recommend the earlier the better.
Another way to pursue a claim if the Animals Act is unlikely to be sufficient is through the Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984. If the bite took place at the neighbour’s property, Occupiers of premises have to take reasonable care to ensure visitors to the premises are safe.
Where a dog is used intentionally to cause harm there may be a cause of action in battery.
It should also be considered if the dog a breed prohibited to be kept under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991? For example Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa and/or another type of dog bred for fighting. This Act creates a criminal offence for the owner or person in charge of the dog if it was out of control in a public place.
Other Things to Consider
If a claim is being pursued against the neighbour one important factor to consider is if they have pet or home insurance. If they do not have any insurance to indemnify them to pay any compensation to your son, do they have any means to pay this themselves? Do they own property, work etc. A claim could be successful pursued only to find the defendants have no means to pay the compensation at the conclusion.
We offer a Free No Win No Fee service
You can visit any of our offices for a free No Win No Fee consultation. We have offices in Nottingham, Mansfield, Sutton-in-Ashfield and Kirby-in-Ashfield. During a 30 minute initial consultation during we can provide you with more in depth information on how to become your son’s litigation friend, advise you on what would be the best approach to proceed with your claim, as well as answer any additional questions that you might have.Request a Callback
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