Can you make a claim for compensation if your horse is attacked by a dog?

Posted by Malcolm Johnson on

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British Horse, the magazine of the British Horse Society has written about a campaign by the Society and the police to tackle an increase in dog attacks on horses. These attacks can result in serious injuries, not only to the horse but also to the rider.

So what can be done if your horse is attacked by a dog, and you suffer injury?

First of all, you need to check your own insurance, whether it be household or the kind of insurance provided by the BHS. This may cover you and your horse.

Second,  a civil claim may lie against the owner. Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 says that the owner of a dog can be guilty of an offence, if his or her dog is out of control in a public place. Certainly a civil claim for negligence would lie against the owner, who failed to keep his dog under control.

The trouble is that the owner may not have the funds to pay the claim, although it is often forgotten that many types of household insurance cover claims made against an insured in a wide variety of circumstances. So there may be insurance in place.

Third,  there may also be a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Sadly the Authority would not compensate for damage to the horse, as it does not recognise "property" damage but a claim by the rider is a definite possibility.

At least one claim has been made by people knocked off a bicycle by a dangerous dog.  In the case of CICA v CICP/First-tier Tribunal and TS [2012] UKUT 444 (AAC) (19 November 2012) the injured party (TJ) was born on 1st October 1987.

On 15th August 2002 (aged 14) he was riding his bicycle (apparently on the pavement) at about 5.15 pm. A dog escaped from the garden where it was supposed to be confined and started barking and snapping at TJ. He believed that he being attacked by the dog and instinctively cycled into the road to avoid it. He was hit by a car and seriously injured. 

The car driver was not to blame in the sense of incurring any criminal or civil liability. The dog owner could not afford to compensate TJ even if successful civil proceedings had been taken against her. The extent of TJ's injuries was such that he was in hospital for four months and the tariff award (in addition to compensation for loss of earnings) was later assessed by the First-tier Tribunal at £115,280. You can view the whole case here.

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Malcolm is an Senior Associate in our London office, with nearly twenty years' experience.

Malcolm Johnson
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