The Most Dog Friendly Community Online
Join and Discover the Best Things to do with your Dog

Welcome to Our Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Liability in a dog skirmish

Discussion in 'Legal Information for Dog owners' started by Mr.Kankuu, Jan 9, 2022.

  1. Mr.Kankuu

    Mr.Kankuu New Member Registered

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hello.

    I would really like some advice regarding this issue.

    My dog was involved in a skirmish yesterday. As we were returning from a walk, there was a dog owner with her dog outside our front door. My dog is large, hers was small (a whippet). As the dogs came close, the whippet surged forward and started barking. My dog lunged at the whippet, and unfortunately made contact before I could pull him off. Our dog was unhurt, and the owner initially thought her dog was fine. However, the owner called at our house a few minutes later to inform us our dog had bitten hers as he had a wound. She also suggested it might not have been a bite, but a swipe from his paw as I pulled him away, as whippets have very thin, easily-injured skin. We both agreed she should take him to the vets whatever the cause of the injury, as it could get infected and we asked her to call back later to let us know how he was? She seemed calm, but clearly annoyed, although she now had two other people with her who seemed intent on stirring things up, and were saying we should pay all the vet bills and they did not feel safe walking their dogs knowing how dangerous our dog was etc. These people were not involved in the incident in any way to my knowledge, not even as witnesses, but I presume they were other dog walkers who had offered to support her when she discovered her dog had been injured. We live along a busy dog-walking route, and there are always dog walkers around.

    The owner returned later that evening to give us a progress report. She had to go to the emergency vets, who were going clean the wound, staple it and dress it. Emergency vets charge the Earth (they evidently quoted her £900), but she said she would simply claim it on her pet insurance if we agreed to pay her excess of £85 as the vets insisted this be paid before they would release the dog home. We agreed to this as a goodwill gesture, paid it immediately and she left apparently satisfied.

    This morning she contacted us. She now demanded we cover all the vet bills, including all follow-up appointments. She has given us an ultimatum to to let her know before Tuesday whether we wish the vets to bill us directly for everything, or whether we want the insurance company to pursue us for the costs?

    In my opinion, I am not liable for this as her dog initiated the interaction by barking at my dog on his doorstep (although she will probably deny this). Both dogs were on leads at the time. Unfortunately I suspect her asking us to cover the excess was simply a trick to make it look as though we were admitting liability. I am tempted to say put it through the insurance, and then dispute liability if/when they contact us - or have I shot myself in the foot by paying the excess? Will I end up paying even more if it goes through insurance, as they will clearly add a load of charges.

    Any advice appreciated as this is really stressing us.

    Kind regards
    Mr. K
     
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

    Messages:
    6,105
    Likes Received:
    7,587
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You should probably contact a lawyer who specialises in dog law - I've seen this one recommended a number of times: Dog Legal Specialists & Solicitors | Dog Law

    Did you see the injury yourself? Were you on your own property when this happened, e.g. in your front garden if you have one? Were they on lead?

    I would write down every detail you can remember about who reacted first, how close they were, what their body language suggested. Also detail interactions your dog has had with other dogs, either good or bad. BUT I would be careful what you state here just in case it could compromise your case in any way (e.g. if you posted that your dog had had an attitude problem a few other times). You might, however, want to read this thread on reactive dogs we have here: Dog Reactivity
     
  3. Mr.Kankuu

    Mr.Kankuu New Member Registered

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thank you for the advice, and the recommendation of a Legal Specialist. I will contact them tomorrow.
    I saw the injury when the owner returned with her dog, not at the time of the incident. She herself said she did not think there had any injury, but noticed some blood as she continued with her walk. We were on the road in front of my house when the incident happened. Both dogs were on leads.

    I will read the thread now. Thank you again.
     
    JudyN likes this.
  4. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

    Messages:
    1,133
    Likes Received:
    970
    Trophy Points:
    113
    A bit of extra info -but do contact the specialist solicitors -

    Is your dog insured? If so, insurance companies talk to insurance companies, and then they each talk to their own customers. Do not have any further discourse with this woman but refer her to your insurance company, who will have their own solicitors.

    Do not pay anything at this stage as that automatically admits liability. If you did want to pay out of the kindness of your heart, pay a part of the bill e.g. the excess, with a letter (not a phone call or email) clearly stating that you are not admitting liability and this is simply a gesture of kindness. But agree this with your insurance people first. Keep a copy.

    Under the DDA, it is not a crime for a dog to bite/scratch/otherwise injure another dog, BUT the owner might claim for damage to property. Whether this would get anywhere or not depends on a lot of things, and is again a job for your insurance company solicitor. It can be mighty expensive in UK for a member of the public to sue another, especially when there is no actual evidence (only hearsay) of what happened. Regardless of "blame" and what is morally right, this is how the law works.

    Write everything down as it happened. Do it now. memory plays tricks, and this kind of incident can take months to resolve.
     
    JoanneF likes this.
  5. Mr.Kankuu

    Mr.Kankuu New Member Registered

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Many thanks for your assistance.
    I have now spoken to a solicitor from the company recommended. He was very clear that he did not feel there was any liability. The fact that we covered her insurance excess as a goodwill gesture was not an admission of liability. The fact that only one dog was injured was not relevant to liability. The fact that one dog was bigger than the other was not relevant to liability.

    Both dogs were on a lead, and both owners reacted in exactly the same way once the barking commenced. In order for liability to be established it must be demonstrated that one party did or did not do something which lead to the injury. Both parties dies exactly the same thing.

    He was very reassuring that insurance companies will only pursue third parties if they feel liability can be demonstrated, which he did not think was the case. He also suggested I might be covered for this by my house insurance, so I phoned the company and discovered this was indeed the case.

    I am feeling very relieved now.

    Thanks again.
     
    Flobo, Finsky and JoanneF like this.
  6. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

    Messages:
    6,105
    Likes Received:
    7,587
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Oh, that is good news - thank you for letting us know:)
     
  7. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

    Messages:
    1,133
    Likes Received:
    970
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Excellent work - well done.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.