Dog bite compensation: James McNally wins another dog attack case.
James McNally, who has a national reputation as a specialist dog bite solicitor, has recovered compensation of £35,000 for a Cheshire man attacked by a Labrador while he and his son were walking their own dog.
Mr M was walking in fields near his house when he saw a couple walking towards him with three dogs. One of the dogs, a black Labrador, began to run towards him. His own dog was a small Bedlington terrier. Fearing for its safety he picked it up as the Labrador approached. Unable to reach the terrier the Labrador redirected its aggression towards Mr M, biting his thigh while he tried to keep his dog out of reach. Mr M was also extremely worried that his son would be attacked next so tried to distract the Labrador to give his son time to escape.
Mr M remained in the field while the emergency services were called. It became apparent that the dog which had attacked him was not being walked by its owner but by a family friend and his mother. They were joined in the field by the friend’s father as well as the dog’s owner, both of whom seemed to show little sympathy for Mr M.
Mr M’s injuries were serious and he had to stay in hospital for surgery. The wounds became infected and he required further treatment. In addition he was diagnosed with PTSD, such was the ferocity of the attack and his fear for his own safety and that of his son.
Criminal charges were brought against the dog walker and he pleaded guilty to being in charge of an out of control dog in a public place. A destruction order was also made against the Labrador which its owner successfully appealed.
Slee Blackwell were instructed to bring a dog bite compensation claim against the dog’s owner. We agreed to work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
The medical report we obtained confirmed that in addition to suffering permanent scarring Mr M would need surgery on his knee. He also had ongoing PTSD.
Despite the guilty criminal law plea, the owner refused to accept legal responsibility. As well as denying that the three stage test under the Animals Act had been met he denied that the criminal conviction was of relevance and argued that there was uncertainty about which dog had actually attacked. The lack of sympathy shown at the time of the attack was unfortunately being repeated during the claim.
Mr M didn’t want a long drawn out battle, so in an effort to resolve matters at an early stage he said he would accept just £15,000. The dog’s owner unwisely rejected the offer. We then took the unusual step of withdrawing that offer completely and pressed on with the legal claim.
The owner continued to deny liability and told his solicitors not to settle the claim. This was extremely upsetting for Mr M and meant that all our expertise was required to ensure that the strongest possible case was put in place so that it was ready for trial.
We obtained a helpful report from a Canine Behaviourist, and gave special attention to the evidence presented at the criminal trial.
We also addressed the owner’s allegation that there was no proof of which dog was responsible for the attack. Although the owner had not called upon the dog walker as a witness, the dog walker had given a statement to the police. The owner’s father had also prepared a diary of events which was disclosable. Both documents made it quite clear that it was the defendant’s dog which had caused the attack.
Shortly before trial the dog owner’s solicitor said that while the dog owner himself did not accept responsibility, the pet insurer funding the defence did not wish to defend the claim any further. An out of court settlement was agreed at £35,000. This was £20,000 more that our client had offered at a much earlier stage, since when considerable legal costs had been incurred which the insurers would also have to pay.
Commenting on the case James McNally said:
“This was an incredibly frustrating case for both us and our client because the dog owner was simply unwilling to accept that their dog had caused the injury. Had they not been so stubborn our client could have received treatment much sooner and the claim could have been concluded much quicker which would have helped his mental health considerably. And the owner’s insurers would have saved a great deal of money.
I was very proud of him for persisting with the dog bite compensation claim when at times it was difficult for him to continue. I am very pleased with the final result. It was a case which required a great deal of thought and planning as although it seemed obvious that the owner was at fault their denial meant that nothing could be taken for granted. While it may have been obvious to us they were at fault, we had to ensure we had the evidence required to prove that in a Court of law. That is where our skill and expertise in this niche area really came into its own.”
We deal with dog bite claims nationwide on a No Win – No Fee basis. If you require expert guidance on making a dog bite compensation claim from experienced solicitors then call our free helpline on 0333 888 0404 or email [email protected]