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Dog bite claims in Scotland

As the old saying goes “A dog is man’s best friend”. But despite our fondness for these four-legged friends they still have the potential to be dangerous animals.

You, your family, friends, members of the public or other animals are all at risk of being injured by dogs.

To be clear, at Digby Brown we don’t believe in ‘devil dogs’ or other such terms – we simply believe in responsible dog ownership regardless of breed. This is because we know it’s not just large dogs that cause injuries – even the smallest hound can inflict a nasty wound.

But sadly numerous dog bites happen every year and some people are bitten so badly they are scarred for life – tragically, on rare occasions, people can even be fatally injured.

What does the law say about dog bite injuries?

In Scotland keepers of dogs are held accountable by the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987. The Act holds a dog keeper as “strictly liable” if the injury was caused by “biting or otherwise savaging, attacking or harrying”.

However strict liability does not apply if the bite victim in any way goaded or encouraged the dog to attack (such as deliberately playing rough) or if they acted in a manner that would lead to the dog biting as a form of self-defence. 

The law says “keepers” and not “owners” because there is a difference and it can determine who is strictly liable for your injuries.
For example, if a dog owner leaves their pet with a professional dog walker then the professional does not suddenly become the dog’s owner – instead they may be regarded as the keeper for the time they are in charge of that dog.

This means if the dog bites a member of the public while on a walk it would be inappropriate to claim against the owner because they were not in control of the dog at the time of the bite. A claim would instead be made against the professional dog walker. (This is also why responsible dog care professionals should hold public liability insurance to protect against such incidents).

The Act does not apply though if you are injured because you were knocked over after a dog jumped up in a boisterous but affectionate manner.

So what happens with a dog bite injury claim and how does it differ from other personal injury claims?

How dog bite compensation claims are made

Dogs are privately owned animals and although most people regard pooches as members of their family the law actually recognises pets as property. 

How we recover compensation is most commonly done in two ways depending on who the keeper was at the time of the bite:

  • If the keeper is a private individual – a claim is most likely made against their home insurance.
  • If the keeper is a professional service provider (like a dog walker or kennel operator) – a claim is most likely made against any professional insurance they have. If none can be traced then we will revert to their home insurance.

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The dog bite claim process – what it means for you

By now you’ll understand the claims process for a dog bite case can have some differences compared to the likes of road traffic accident claims or workplace accident claims. 

However when it comes to actually building your case there is a lot that remains the same.

A statement

The first thing we will do is take a statement from you to go over what happened. It will include what happened, where you were, how you were injured, who was involved, what medical treatment you received and how your injury impacted you (such as if you had to take time off work). The more detail you provide the better as this will allow us to understand the circumstances of the accident and assess whether we can help.

Intimating the claim

We contact the insurer of the dog keeper to inform them we are investigating a claim. This formally starts the process and the communication between both sides. 

Gathering the right evidence

We gather the statements of any witnesses who saw the attack and other corroborative evidence that may shed light on the incident (such as public CCTV). We will also gather any photos you have of your injuries you may have taken in the immediate aftermath so it can illustrate the severity of what happened. 

Assessing your injuries and the impact of them

With your permission we will gather your medical records so we can get proof of your injuries and of the treatment you received. We will then work with independent experts who will provide in-depth reports on how your injuries may affect your future. For example, will the bite leave permanent scarring? Did the bite cause permanent muscle damage that will prevent you from enjoying your hobbies or working the same way? All this can be analysed and goes a long way to helping settle your claim for the right amount.

Calculating your losses

After gathering all that medical evidence we work with yet more experts to calculate the financial impact of the dog bite. Did you lose wages because you couldn’t work during your recovery? Were your clothes or other belongings damaged? Did your injuries prevent you from going on a pre-booked holiday? All such losses can be analysed too so gathering the right evidence such as payslips and receipts will be vital as well.

Once everything is in place it may be that the insurer accepts liability for the bite straight away – the case is then simply a matter of negotiating a fair settlement (which is why it’s important to gather all the right evidence so we can justify the amount being sued for).

If the insurer does not accept liability for the bite then we will consider preparing the case for court – back things rarely get that far as it’s the last place insurers want to go (especially if our evidence is strong).

The robust way we build cases is what helps us to help you – just like we did for Kristina Aburrow. The Dundee artist was mauled by a Rottweiler and was left with a badly damaged arm. Even though the police took no action against the dog owner it did not prevent us from raising a civil action – and it did not prevent Kristina from securing rightful damages. 

No win, no fee personal injury solicitors

The expression “No win, no fee” is often used in personal injury cases.  It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses. 

A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful. 

In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.

Compensate 'no win, no fee' funding

Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.

If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing

On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer

Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.

In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.

Don’t take our word for it, just read many of the court decisions and case studies on our website.

Beware of compensation offers which may be too good

We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.

  • How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
  • If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
  • Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
  • If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
  • It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
  • These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.

We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value. 

Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.

Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown

Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.

Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.

Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors

We have offices across Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr.

For further information about no win, no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.

Choosing Digby Brown for your dog bite injury claim

This whole process might seem in-depth but they are essential steps.

Because we know you don’t just want your case to merely settle – you want your case to settle well and for a fair amount.

You might also think such a service sounds costly but for you it costs nothing. 

The whole process is part of a no win, no fee service made possible thanks to our funding model Compensate which covers all the legal costs of your case. This includes the investigation work, the instructing of experts and all the associated court costs.

You will never pay a thing towards your case and never part with any of your own money. The only thing you part with is a small success fee (capped at 20%) which we recover from the compensation payment at the end of the case. 

Our commitment to providing industry-leading service, value and fairness for clients is why Digby Brown has a five-star rating from nearly 2,000 people on Trustpilot. 

It’s also why the firm has been top ranked in Chambers for the last eighteen years, top ranked by Legal 500 for the last fourteen and won countless legal awards in Scotland.

It is important that you seek specialist legal advice from a personal injury lawyer with experience in these types of cases.

At Digby Brown, we have vast experience in dog bite cases and would be very willing to help you so for more information please fill in our online enquiry form or contact our Legal Enquiries Team.

What our clients say about us

We put our clients at the centre of everything we do and are committed to providing the very best service. The hundreds of five star reviews we have received on Trustpilot is a reflection of this approach.

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