Personal Injury Claims & Dog Bite Law NSW: What Does The Law Say?

Suffering a dog attack injury is not only terrifying to experience, it can also have serious ongoing consequences for the victim, but can you claim compensation for a dog bite? The short answer is yes, you may likely be able to claim compensation.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog and wish to make a compensation claim, read on to understand your rights in this situation and what the law says about dog bite compensation or contact a personal injury lawyer for more information.

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What do I do if I’ve been bitten by a dog?

There are two things you need to do before you seek legal advice regarding a dog bite – get medical treatment if needed immediately and call the police as soon as possible. According to the Companion Animals Act 1998, police officers have a wide range of powers to handle incidents relating to dog bites and attacks.

Once you have sought appropriate treatment and informed your local authorities, you can speak with a personal injury lawyer regarding your case.

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What constitutes a valid claim for dog bite compensation in NSW?

When assessing potential compensation claims, there are a few facts we need to determine first before proceeding. We first need to know the seriousness of the dog bite and the effect on the injured person, then we need to assess which party could be considered at fault – is it the dog owner or is it the injured person? Once we have a clear idea of the damage and fault, we can begin the claims process.

What type of injury is a dog bite?

Dog bite injuries can range from mild to quite serious, and many can be considered actionable dog bite claims under personal injury law.

It is a misconception that an injury from a dog attack is only actionable if it breaks the skin/draws blood. Actionable dog bite cases could be made for:

  • Bruising – no skin has been broken; can be caused by a dog jumping on you or knocking you down.
  • Torn or damaged clothes or personal items – items or clothing damaged when the attack occurred.
  • Puncture wounds – breaks through the skin to some degree.
  • Scaring – this is usually the result of a puncture wound that requires medical treatment.
  • Permanent damage to tissues or nerves – this can be due to being knocked down by a dog or by a deep puncture wound that damages tissue or nerves.
  • Trauma – this could relate to physical and psychological injuries; for example, physical trauma could be extensive damage that will involve future medical costs; psychological injury could include the development of anxiety or more serious disorders like PTSD or phobias.

Whose fault is it? Determining fault in a dog bite compensation claim

While some people may believe this is an outrageous question, you will need to consider whether or not your actions could have contributed to the injury occurring. Understanding the full extent of the circumstances around the attack happening will help us determine the validity of a potential compensation claim. 

Some circumstances are more or less obvious, for example, if you intentionally cause physical harm to a dog that attacks in retaliation, you are likely to be at fault and may even be subject to a compensation claim from the dog’s owner

The injured party could be at fault for a dog bite injury if:

  • You trespassed on the dog owner’s private property (entered the property without invitation).
  • You intentionally physically harm a dog or provoke the dog beyond the reasonable control of the dog owner/s.
  • You intentionally aggravate a dog by teasing it or causing the animal distress.
  • You approached the dog without warning the dog owner or the dog itself.

Dog Owners could be at fault for a dog bite injury if:

  • The owner lost control of the dog (and it was not due to the dog being provoked or aggravated by the injured party).
  • The dog was off leash in a public place that required leashing.
  • If the dog was roaming unattended by its owner.
  • If the owner had purposely bred a dangerous dog to be harmful to others.

Seeking compensation for dog attacks is not always as straightforward as people might initially think and it is best to speak with a compensation lawyer before pursuing legal action.

If you have any questions about dog attack compensation in Australia, contact our personal injury lawyers.

What can I claim after a dog bite injury?

You’ve determined the dog owner is at fault and the severity of the injury – what is the next step? 

From here, we determine the effect the injury has had on your life practically and financially to assess what to include in the dog bite claim. As with most personal injury claims, you may be able to claim for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses – emergency visits, medications, primary care physician visits, surgical procedures (stitches for example), first aid costs, ongoing medical treatments (including past and future costs), etc.
  • Damaged personal items or clothing – this would be the cost to replace the personal items damaged during the attack, including items like watches, mobile phones, other mobile or portable devices, electronic car keys, etc.
  • Permanent physical damage, which can result in additional damages such as pain and suffering or needing to receive in-home care for recovery.
  • Loss of earnings due to time off work or being unable to continue to work.

Time Limits to Make a Dog Bite Compensation Claim

As with most personal injury claims, there are strict time limits to commence a claim in Court for a dog bite or dog attack. The injured party has a period of 3 years from the date of ‘discoverability’ to proceed with their claim. 

The date of discoverability refers to the date the injured person knows the incident and subsequent injuries (or the death of the injured person) occurred.

Key Takeaways

What constitutes a valid claim for dog bite compensation in NSW?

    For professional legal advice regarding the particular circumstances of your case, contact BurkeMead personal injury lawyers to book a consultation.

    About the Author
    Emma Mead

    Emma Mead is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, accredited by the Law Society of NSW. She is also a National Accreditor Mediator and has a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. She specialises in all personal injury and family law disputes, locally and across New South Wales.