Dr S was working as the sole Vet at the Defendant’s Veterinary Practice. A Mr Jones attended for a pre-booked appointment with his dog, an American Bulldog complaining about problems the dog was having going to the toilet. Dr S called up the dogs records on the computer system. There was no warning noted regarding possible aggressive behaviour. She carried out a physical examination of the dog. She asked if there were further concerns and Mr Jones mentioned the dog’s eyes. She knelt to examine his eyes when suddenly and without warning the dog lunged and bit her face and arm. Dr S suffered multiple bites to her forearm and a deep laceration to her upper lip and face. She also showed psychological symptoms and was fearful when carrying out examinations of dogs. Following the incident, Dr S learned that when Mr Jones had visited the vets to book the appointment he told the nurse that he had not had the dog long and the dog had shown some behaviour issues, being very possessive of him and snapping at his girlfriend. He was advised by the nurse to ensure the dog received training and was muzzled. Mr Jones was uninsured and therefore was not in a position to pay Dr S compensation however we were able to argue that the accident was caused by the negligence and/or breach of statutory duty of Dr S's employers. It was argued that details of the conversation between Mr Jones and the nurse were not passed to Dr S and the dog’s records were not updated accordingly. It was claimed that had they been so then Dr S would have been made aware of the dog’s behavioural problems prior to the examination and could have acted accordingly, for example taking steps to muzzle the dog and had the nurse passed on this relevant information the accident could have been avoided. As a consequence of the accident, the Claimant sustained multiple bites to her forearm but predominately a deep laceration to her upper lip and face. In addition, the Claimant suffered psychological symptoms. Liability was initially denied on the basis that Dr S was a qualified Vet and that she was fully trained and given an induction which included the need to assess and potentially muzzle unknown dogs. The Defendant’s Insurers denied any negligence on the part of their insured for staff. We continued to argue on Dr S's behalf and accepted that there may have been some contributory negligence on her part and agreed an 80:20 split on liability in her favour. Expert evidence was obtained from a Consultant Plastic surgeon and Psychiatrist and also from a Cosmetic Camouflage expert who was able to detail exactly what products would help Dr S cover up her scars and how much it would all cost. Agreement was finally reached for settlement of Dr S's claim in the sum of £37,500.00 gross which equated to £30,000.00 net based on the 80:20 liability split.
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