If you have been injured by an animal you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Depending on the scenario this claim may be brought against another party under the Animals Act 1971 (the Animals Act).
Do I have a claim?
Such a claim would normally be made against the owner, or the keeper, of the animal. Whether you have a claim depends on several factors and can be split into two categories, dangerous and non-dangerous species of animal.
Dangerous species of animal
If you are injured by an animal classed as a dangerous species then the incident attracts a strict liability. This means that the keeper of the animal is responsible for the injury sustained and you do not have to prove any negligence on the part of the keeper. All you need to prove is that the defendant was the keeper of the animal and that the animal caused injury.
The list of dangerous species is extensive but, for example, includes certain types of venomous snakes and predatory animals (such as a lion or tiger).
There is also a legal test to determine what constitutes a dangerous species:
is not commonly domesticated in the British islands; and
whose full grown animals normally have such characteristics that they are likely, unless restrained, to cause severe damage; or
any damage they cause is likely to be severe.
Non dangerous species of animal
If animals are domesticated then they tend to be deemed as non-dangerous. Most animals (for example dogs, cats, horses etc) are non-dangerous because they are often tamed or kept under human control and domesticated within the British Isles.
Liability is slightly harder to establish and the law behind it is slightly more complex. In summary 3 conditions must be met:
the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which, if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe; and
the likelihood of the damage or of it being severe was due to the characteristics of the animal which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally found except at particular times or in particular circumstances; and
those characteristics were known to that keeper or were known to a person who at that time had charge of the animal as that keeper’s servant, or where that keeper is the head of a household, were known to another keeper of the animal who is a member of that household and under the age of sixteen.
The three conditions are linked. The same animal characteristic must satisfy each of them.
If liability can be established then it is imposed upon the animal’s keeper.
What will I receive?
This will depend entirely on the nature of the injury you have suffered but normally a claim may include for:
Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
loss of earnings.
cost of medical treatment.
cost of carer support.
hire charges for replacement vehicles