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Dangerous dogs

16 May, 2014/ by National Accident Helpline /Legal Blog, News

This week, the Government announced that dog owners who fail to prevent their pets attacking people will face longer jail terms.

Previously, the sentence for allowing a dog to fatally attack a person stood at just two years. I was pleased to see this has now been increased to 14 years. The potential penalty for non-fatal dog attacks that result in injury has also increased, with the maximum jail term rising from two years to five.

These legislative changes come amidst increasing concern about dog-bite related incidents. There were 17 recorded deaths due to dog attacks in the UK between 2005 and 2013. Additionally, in 2012-13 there were 6,302 hospital admissions due to dog bites, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Dog attacks can clearly have serious consequences, and specialist teams are often needed to handle claims related to this type of personal injury. Yet in many instances attacks by dangerous dogs are not covered by any form of household insurance.

While we can offer expert advice on the process of making a claim in this area, the lack of obligatory dangerous dogs insurance is the Achilles heel of the current legislation, forcing some victims to go down the route of criminal injuries compensation.

Should it therefore be mandatory for the owners of ‘dangerous' breeds to hold specific insurance against third party injury?

While the vast majority of the estimated 8.5 million dogs in the UK are impeccably behaved, much loved family pets, this provision would surely make sense in light of the stricter penalties being levied against what is clearly a growing problem.

There is currently no requirement for dog owners to hold a licence for their pet. The degree of protection offered by specific insurance would offer peace of mind to individuals such as postal workers or care assistants, who may routinely come into contact with a variety of pets in their line of work.

At National Accident Helpline we are committed to gaining access to justice for personal injury sufferers, and this insurance-based solution would represent a fair outcome for all. Many individuals come into contact with dogs as a result of their job and it is vital that they can continue to work, safe in the knowledge that a legitimate injury suffered after an encounter with a dangerous dog would be compensated.

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