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Bitten by a Dog??....A timely reminder of your rights

I read the other day, the statistics of dog attacks on humans. A 20% increase in 2016/17 alone - 391 hospital admissions! An alarming statistic. With the holiday season fast approaching, and with people being out more on leisure activities, it is timely to remind of the obligations and liabilities imposed in SA. The more society takes pet ownership responsibly, the better.

By the way, the above statistic came from Dog and Cat Management Board 2016 – 17 Year in Review. A very interesting read.

In South Australia, the Cat and Dog Management Act stipulates that the owner of a dog is liable if the dog causes injury to a person. It is not a defence to say that the dog did not have a propensity to attack. The common thought (myth) that 'my dog has never done that before', will not hold up. Nor, will it be a defence to say that your dog escaped your premises.

Liability is essentially automatic if your dog attacks or injures a person. There can be exceptions under the legislation, but these are limited. One such exception is if the person who was injured provoked the dog. It is therefore important that you ensure that your dog is kept within your premises. In fact, even when visitors come to your premises you must make sure your dog is not able to bite a visitor – and that extends beyond visiting friends to door knockers, trades people and yes, even the postie.

Additionally, when you take your dog for a walk, it should be under proper control including use of a leash, lead, or chain. Certain dogs may require further measures, such as a muzzle.

Attacks on people can and do leave lifelong scars, both physically and mentally. With over 30 years’ experience in handling dog attack compensation claims, I see it far too often. Let's see the focus on reducing attacks, in the same way as accidents on our roads.

As a household owner, one way of protecting yourself financially, is to have home and contents insurance that may provide for cover in circumstances whereby your dog causes injury to people. Such cover is not automatic, and you should ask your insurer whether the coverage is included in your policy.

In the unfortunate instance of an injury due to a dog, I recommend that if you are injured you report the matter immediately to the local Council, and/or Police.

I have handled many cases involving injuries caused by dogs and a claim may be worthwhile even if the physical injury is minor, but there is psychological trauma.

If you are injured by a dog, please call me, or complete the free case appraisal form

Written by
Graeme Kirkham
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