Clever detective work by expert dog bite solicitor James McNally pays off.
Our client, who for confidentiality reasons we will simply call “Carly”, was driving along a lane which ran alongside a farm when she noticed cows were loose on the road. Concerned for the wellbeing of the cows and for the safety of other road users she decided to alert the farmer. She stopped her vehicle and entered the farm through the main gate of the property. She called out and walked towards the farm house when she noticed a dog, a Blue Heeler, on a bench near the house. The dog did not react to her presence and she felt no concern as she continued to walk towards the door of the house, calling out as she did so. Suddenly and without warning the dog ran towards her and bit her lower left leg.
The injury was a nasty one and Carly attended hospital to have her leg sutured. Further attendances at the hospital were necessary for 3 months following the incident, to allow the wound to be redressed and topical creams applied. Carly also suffered psychological trauma as a result of the incident and the subsequent scarring to her leg.
Carly had written the incident off as “one of those horrible things” when she got into conversation with her treating nurse who told her she had previously treated someone else who had been bitten on the same farm. Carly therefore decided that she should do something about it.
She contacted specialist dog bite solicitor James McNally for a free initial assessment of her claim. James, who has been called “The Dog Bite Solicitor” by the national newspapers, agreed to take the case on, working on a No Win – No Fee basis. A letter of claim was sent to the farmer, but no response was received. James arranged to obtain medical evidence which confirmed there was permanent scarring and that Carly was now had a fear of dogs which had not previously been the case.
As the defendant was evidently unwilling to cooperate James made arrangements for court proceedings to be issued. However, at the eleventh hour the insurance company, NFU Mutual, contacted us to confirm they were the defendant’s insurers and would deal with the claim.
When they provided a full response they stated they while they were aware the dog had previously attacked a visitor to the farm they nevertheless denied liability on the basis that warning signs in respect of the dog were in place and that a sign with the Defendant’s telephone number was also on display. They said there was no need for Carly to have entered the property and that she accepted the risk of attack by doing so.
Carly denied that a sign displaying the Defendant’s telephone number had been present on the day of the incident. We asked the insurers for evidence of the signage, including copies of any purchase invoice. NFU Mutual could not tell us the exact date the signage had first been displayed. The Defendant also confirmed he was unable to remember where the signage had been purchased. Carly was aware the farm was on the market at the time of the accident so photographs were obtained from the estate agent which appeared to be taken just prior to the accident. Curiously these did not show any signage detailing the Defendant’s telephone number.
We therefore suspected that the Defendant had installed the signage displaying the telephone number after the incident and made this point to NFU Mutual, confirming that if they intended to contest liability then we would go to court and let a judge decide.
Further medical evidence was therefore obtained from a specialist plastic surgeon as well as a report from a skin camouflage expert who recommended the use of a camouflage cream to conceal Carly’s scars. The costs of the recommended camouflage products were added to the claim.
Prior to issuing court proceedings the updated medical evidence and details of Carly’s losses and expenses were disclosed to the NFU Mutual along with an offer to settle. This resulted in an out of court settlement being reached and Carly receiving the compensation she deserved.