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In the scenario of off lead dogs vs on lead dog who would be liable for the vet bills?

(20 Posts)
PlayOnWurtz Wed 05-Apr-17 12:19:25

Just had a horrible encounter with a pack of off lead dogs going for my on lead dog. Mine is the bigger one and luckily held her own while the owner trundled over and swore at me as I was trying to get mine away. Luckily all dogs ok But had mine done any damage to any of them would I have been liable for the vets bills?

Rainbowqueeen Wed 05-Apr-17 12:24:36

No idea what the legal position would be but where I live an off lead dog must be under effective control of the owner at all times.

Which to me means that the owner must be aware of what their dogs are doing and that dogs must respond immediately to their owners commands.
From what you have described it doesn't sound like that happened. So if I had to decide, I would find the off lead dog owner responsible for all costs

Tripilates Wed 05-Apr-17 12:25:35

No, off lead dogs' owner would. Dogs off lead should not be allowed to approach a dog on lead. If owner was unable to recall them back in time they were not in his control and should not have been off leash.

PlayOnWurtz Wed 05-Apr-17 12:32:31

Thanks. It's one of my fears as my dog is very reactive with others so I'm petrified as she's got a known reputation and injures another dog I'll be liable for the bills.

PlayOnWurtz Wed 05-Apr-17 12:33:05

And by reputation she's never hurt another animal or person but she came to us as with a history of dog reactivity

BiteyShark Wed 05-Apr-17 12:35:41

Do you have third party liability insurance? If you do I would imagine the insurance company would argue very strongly that the off lead dog was not under control.

PlayOnWurtz Wed 05-Apr-17 12:37:35

Pretty sure we do. I made sure we got insurance for if she got into a scrap because of her reactivity issues.

Floralnomad Wed 05-Apr-17 12:44:06

I don't think it's as straight forward as off lead dog is always in the wrong as if your dog damages another dog / person whilst on a lead are they really under your control ? That said the off lead dog should not be allowed to approach you .

BiteyShark Wed 05-Apr-17 12:48:09

I think if off lead dog suddenly bites a passer by then yes you would be liable. But if off lead dogs have run up to on lead and get hurt then isn't that the equivalent of me coming up and pushing someone and then complaining when they defend themselves.

Anyway this is why I made sure I have insurance for lots of things (dogs, cycling etc) so I can just let them deal with any fallouts.

PlayOnWurtz Wed 05-Apr-17 13:41:40

Yes. With us if a dog gets too close to mine I grab her harness and pull her toward me and between my legs (if it's too late to try any other strategies we have) whilst the other dog is hopefully walked quickly past us. We don't use a retractable lead for this exact reason. If she is going for a dog when on the lead it's because that other dog has come up to her and got in her space

olliegarchy99 Wed 05-Apr-17 15:15:12

not particularly relevant but some years ago my first 'lurch' who unlike my present one, did not have perfect recall was twice set upon by a loose dog (another bitch) and in both cases the guilty owners assured me they would pay any vet's fees (in both cases it was a relatively minor bite). Maybe I just live in a nice friendly rural area where these things are never in dispute smile

Shambolical1 Wed 05-Apr-17 16:56:58

If you believe your dog will or might 'have a go' then you should muzzle it, at least while you work on the reactivity.

Liability insurance isn't as simple as it sounds; the insurance company are very unlikely to pay out unless it has been proven (probably in court) that your dog and therefore you are responsible for injuries/damages, by negligence or whatever. They won't just pay the other dog's vet bills the way they would your own because you made a claim at the time. In the case of a dog-on-dog situation it can all get a bit messy... If a person has been injured the police are more likely to be interested and then it gets even messier.

Ten quid's worth of plastic muzzle will potentially save you a lot of worry.

BiteyShark Wed 05-Apr-17 17:02:25

Shambolical1 but if someone claims against you then surely it's for your third party liability company to sort out as you would pass it to them.

If they don't think you are liable then how would the third party get any money off you if they can't prove liability or am I missing something? I would not pay if a claim was made against me I would just pass their details to my insurer as I would with a car claim etc.

Do you work in the insurance business? If so I would love to know if I would be held liable even though my insurer says I am not as that is what I get the damn thing for confused

user1476185294 Wed 05-Apr-17 17:13:26

If you know your dog has issues with others (dogs/people/other animals) then you are more at risk of being held responsible for any damage as you are allowing your dog to be out of control if muzzled (no mention of a muzzle, so I'm assuming) but otherwise it would pretty much always be classed as the off lead dogs that are classed as out of control if your dog is on a short leash and close to you, and off lead dogs move into your space away from their owners.

Hidingtonothing Wed 05-Apr-17 17:37:04

This is why the DDA legislation needs serious reform, dog on dog attacks (unless involving an assistance dog) are not covered and liability is difficult to establish as a result. There is also an issue with the term 'dangerously out of control' because, in the case of a loose dog approaching an on lead dog and the loose dog being injured, it is something of a grey area legally as to which dog was 'out of control'.

In my mind it's the loose dog who is not being prevented from approaching a dog on a lead but I have known cases where the on lead dog has been deemed the out of control one because it's owner was unable to prevent it causing injury. Much as I don't feel it's fair I think, with a dog known to be reactive, it's probably prudent to use a muzzle (although that can create further problems with an already nervous dog) in order to protect yourself from liability but that still doesn't protect owners with previously non reactive dogs who then react to a particular incident.

What this situation really demands is all dog owners to use some common sense and prevent their dogs from approaching others without checking with the owner first but I doubt that will ever happen unfortunately.

Shambolical1 Wed 05-Apr-17 18:15:44

I don't work in the insurance business (heaven forfend) but have investigated a similar situation. Pet insurance doesn't work like car insurance, there's no 'knock for knock' and they insure for your dog (and therefore you) only, not for the 'benefit' of third parties.

For example if two dogs have a scrap, yours is insured and the other isn't, your insurance pays only for your vet bills, not the other party's. They would have to claim off their own and if they're not insured, that's their lookout. You can't pay the other party's vet bill and claim it back off your insurance company, so if you do pay them, it's out of your pocket.

Very often there's no clear culprit (or no-one admitting to it), there are no witnesses (or impartial ones) and given those circumstances it's no wonder the police don't want to get involved.

Where more serious public liability cases are concerned, obviously the insurance company want unequivocal proof - ie by a court judgement - that your dog and therefore you ARE liable and they will not pay out until liability is proven. It's one of very few cases where you have to be 'guilty' to win.

If you are NOT proven liable, then they won't pay out. But if you are proven not liable, then you aren't liable and therefore won't have to pay either...

It is quite logical really, just don't expect to say 'It's a fair cop', fill in a couple of forms and be done with it.

BiteyShark Wed 05-Apr-17 18:27:25

Ah ok that makes sense. I tend to think of third party liability to 'cover me' should someone want to start going down the legal route. One of the reasons I have it for bikes is the majority of people control their dogs when they see a cyclist in the forest (me included) but there are some that let them jump and bark and effectively try and bite me and although I slow down to avoid hitting them I was always worried their insurance would come after me personally if we collided. Similar reason I have it for my dog.

Sinuhe Wed 05-Apr-17 18:42:00

No real answer to your question.... but a bit of food for thought.
If I was walking in a well known doggie park with lots of other dogs... I don't always pay attention to the other dogs -may it be because I'm with dd or I just enjoy the walk- simply because my dog is friendly and most of the time minds his own business. Having said that, he sometimes likes to say "Hello" to others.
Now, in my scenario, the person with the reactive (aggressive) dog would have to take some responsibility simply because this person does know that the dog has issues. And this dog with issues was brought into the friendly doggy park by the owner, where it would meet happy, friendly off lead dogs. Which, on the face of it is not the best place for the reactive dog.

Shambolical1 Wed 05-Apr-17 18:46:41

It's sensible to have it for the big things you hope never happen but it isn't meant for or applicable to the equivalent of a minor fender bender.

Basically the insurance companies have accepted the risk of insuring your ickle fluffy and not any passing park shark who might be starting fights with any and all comers and be owned by the local thug.

BiteyShark Wed 05-Apr-17 18:52:29

Sinuhe when you say doggie park do you mean the American style ones where they are ring fenced off for dogs to run in? Or do you mean the U.K. style parks that are for use by everyone. I think that would have some bearing on it but I can't imagine an owner waking a reactive dog in the first type. The latter I would personally think it was my fault if my dog ran up and stuck it's face in an on leads dogs space as I should have control of my dog and not let it interact with other dogs or people unless both parties have agreed. I do think it would be nice for everyone if this area of the law and liability was clearer.

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