There appears to be a growing number of incidents involving dogs or other pets or animals causing damage to property in Queensland.
It is important to remember that a pet is considered, at law, to be a persons property. So if a dog were to attack your dog causing damage or injury, then you may have a claim against the dog owner for any financial loss suffered by you.
That is usually by way of vet bills, re-training or potentially a replacement dog.
Other States in Australia have strict liability if an owner’s dog attacks another and causes damage, that is, the owner is always responsible, without question.
However, in Queensland, we have a different legal system and it is more difficult to prove that a dog owner is responsible. In general there are 3 instances where the owner is responsible in Queensland:
The first 2 instances above relate to a principle in common law that still applies in Queensland, known as scienter. In its basic form, it means that injuries or damage caused by an animal that is known to be dangerous are the responsibility of the owner, regardless of how it occurred.
Most domestic pets, including dogs, do not fall within the common law category as ‘dangerous by nature’, but a venomous snake or other exotic animals might be. A particular domestic dog may be included within the ‘dangerous by nature’ category if you can prove that the owner knew (or ought to have known) that their otherwise tame dog, had an aggressive nature or history.
The third instance above is the most common way an owner of a dog becomes liable for a bog bite or dog attack, which is through a common law claim in negligence. To successfully make a claim you will need to prove that the dog’s owner failed to take proper and reasonable steps to prevent the bite, attack or damage property.
That isn’t always easy but can be done. Perhaps the owner failed to keep the dog restrained on a lead in a area where they ought to have been. Perhaps the owner failed to maintain an adequate enclosure at their home to prevent escape. Perhaps the owner allowed the dog to enter your premises or business when it was forbidden.
It can be a traumatic experience when your dog is involved in a dog fight and is injured. It will obviously be important to get them to the vet straight away. However, here are some tips on what to do to protect your rights against the owner of the dog:
Once you know the extent of the damage caused you’ll be in a position to start thinking about making a claim. Your first thought should be about any insurance policies that might cover the damage. Your own pet insurance may cover some of the expense. If the damage is to your home, business, car or other personal belongings then check your home/business/car insurance policies.
Even if you are covered by insurance for a portion of the expenses, you can still make a claim against the dog owner for the balance remaining and any excess you had to pay.
We assist people make, or defend claims that a dog (or other animal) has caused damage to another’s property.
DISCLAIMER: The above article was written at a specific point in time in the past and is provided as general guidance only. It is not intended to be specific legal advice to any person’s particular circumstances who may be reading it. We do not recommend you use this article as a replacement for obtaining proper legal advice on your issue and encourage anyone reading the article to obtain legal advice to ensure the above information and guidance remains valid and suits your particular circumstance. In our experience, there is no ‘one size fits all’ to legal problems!