Dogwalker personal injury appeal rejected

by Leanne Thompson on July 13, 2009

A dog walker who was knocked over by a dog whilst out walking has had her personal injury appeal for £160,000 rejected.

Patricia Welsh was out walking her golden retriever in 2005 when a black Labrador called Ebony collided into her. Mrs Welsh needed surgery on her knee and tried to sue the owner of the black Labrador, Neil Brady. The judge initially ruled against her stating it had been ‘a pure accident’.

The former college lecturer, Mrs Welsh, 56, lodged an appeal but the appeal judges this week decided that Labradors were

‘unlikely to cause serious injury or death’

Judge Lord Malcolm at the Court of Session warned that courts should not allow a contribution to

“the creation of a society bent in litigation”

He went on to say:

“In my view, what occurred was an unfortunate and unforeseen collision – it was a pure accident. If the law was to consider a labrador running in a field as something which is dangerous in itself, this would come close to making dog owners insurers in respect of all injuries and damage caused by their animals.”

This is certainly good news for those offering dog insurance and those potentially worried about their liability as an animal owner. Most dog insurance includes some form of third party liability insurance to cover cases where your dog might cause harm or injury to someone or their possessions, although it is important to check the terms and conditions to see what is covered or not.

The appeal lodged by Mrs Welsh was based upon the 1987 Animals (Scotland) Act, which says a person is liable for damage or injury if that animal is of a species generally likely to cause damage to property, to kill or to seriously injure.

Sir David Edwards QC, one of the three judges hearing the appeal, said the case came down to the question:

“Are fully grown black labradors, by virtue of their physical attributes or habits, likely, unless controlled or restrained, to injure severely or kill persons or animals?”

The black Labrador in question, Ebony, weighed 25kg and was described to the court as large and boisterous. The dog was said to be excitable yet in no way aggressive. However, she did not always respond to her owner’s commands to return to him.

The appeal ruled in the black Labrador owner’s favour, although I daresay he has had many a sleepless night over this drawn out process. We certainly shouldn’t live in a society where lawsuits are filed for every little thing, so dog owners can rest easy knowing if their dog knocks someone over accidentally whilst out walking, then a personal injury case should not be forthcoming.

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the well written article on dog personal injury litigation. Just seeing the results of this appeal reinforces the belief that there is sanity in the world of law. Currently, I am very interested in this field of law.
    As a dog owner I am even more pleased with the outcome.

    Comment by Susan — February 16, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

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