If you have sustained an injury as a consequence of a dog attack you may be able to bring a claim for personal injury against the responsible owner of the animal. This article looks at dog bite claims and how they are operate in NSW.
The Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) is an Act that provides for the identification and registration of companion animals. The Act also sets out the duties and responsibilities of their owners. Section 25 of the Act specifies that a dog owner is personally responsible for any damage it causes, including injuries to people, damage to personal property (such as clothing) and injury to other animals. A dog owner is defined as the registered owner, the person who has custody and control over the dog and someone who claims the dog as his or her personal property.
If you are attacked or bitten by a dog, it is important to report the matter to your local council. This is important whether the attack happened on public or private property. If the attack happens outside your local council hours, you can report the attack to police. Under the Act, police are also authorised officers and have a wide range of powers to deal with these types of incidents. Authorised officers can, for example, seize a dog that has been involved in an attack.
What can I claim?
If you have been injured by a dog, you may be entitled to bring a claim for personal injury against the owner of the dog. Your claim can include a claim for:
- general damages, including compensation for any physical and/or psychological injury you have suffered;
- your past and any ongoing medical expenses (including hospital, medication, and any rehabilitation expenses);
- any past and future loss of income because you were off work because of your injuries;
- any home help and nursing provided by anyone, paid or unpaid, if it meets certain threshold conditions; and
- the replacement cost for any damage items of clothing or personal items, such as a broken watch, glasses or mobile telephone.
Circumstances where you may be able to make a claim depend on the facts of each case, however, may include situations where you were injured by the responsible owner failing to keep their dog under control, failing to warn you of the dog's aggressive tendency or failing to secure the dog at home whereby it can escape and cause you injury. The Act provides some protection to an owner where the dog attack is as a result of a person or an animal trespassing onto the property where the dog is kept so it is important to seek the appropriate legal advice to discuss the circumstances in which you were injured and whether it is likely you can be successful in a claim.
Strict time limits also apply, so it is important that you speak to a lawyer for advice as soon as possible after you have been attacked.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.