At Slee Blackwell we pride ourselves on our high level of success. As dog bite solicitors we doubt there are many other firms in the country who can claim a near perfect record in terms of cases taken on and compensation received. We have never lost a claim. We have won every dog bite case we have been involved in which has been taken to trial. There have been cases that we have taken other from previous solicitors who have abandoned the dog bite victim. One recently was turned down by not just a solicitor but two barristers and we have not just successfully recovered compensation for our client but compensation of nearly £20,000.

Where our record falls down and why we can’t claim a perfect 100% record in terms of claims taken on and compensation received, is because of the huge number of uninsured dog owners whose animals are responsible for attacks. All too often we will receive a letter from a dog owner confirming that there is no insurance in place. Sometimes the letter is from an insurer confirming that while cover was in place for reasons they are not willing to divulge the terms of the policy have been breached and they will not be providing cover to their insured. We have to explain to the victim that while we believe they have a claim and are certain that their claim will succeed at trial, if the owner has no funds to pay compensation then making a claim isn’t viable.

Without insurance in place, if a claim is successful it is the dog owner themselves who are personally liable for all the compensation and legal fees. There is no pot of cash from the government nor is there legislation in place to force insurers to deal with claims. A decision therefore has to be made as to whether it is worth going down that route. Is it worthwhile pursuing a claim against an uninsured dog owner? Sometimes the answer is yes. If the dog owner has assets. If they own their own home. If they are in employment it may be worthwhile for the dog bite victim to continue. However, if the uninsured dog owner is in rented or council accommodation and are clearly without funds, the sensible decision sometimes has to be ‘no’.

It does not mean there is no claim, but it means that the likelihood is the struggle of getting any compensation or costs out of the dog owner or having a Defendant offer to pay a token sum a month, is not worth the stress for the dog bite victim. And the fact is that a claim against an uninsured Defendant is extra pain and stress. It means long delays waiting for responses. It means that rather than dealing with a solicitor or insurer who will take an impersonal and dispassionate view, you are dealing with an individual who is unfamiliar with the law, unfamiliar with court proceedings, and who often takes the claim against them and their pet extremely personally and seem to have little sympathy for the victim regardless of the seriousness of their injuries.

Understandably for many dog bite victims they feel that they have been through enough. This decision means that they not only often waive their right to compensation but also the possibility of recovering lost earnings or funding for possible treatment. It is a little known fact but when a claim is settled insurers pay funds to the NHS for treatment received as a result. No claim means the NHS are left out of pocket too because of the irresponsibility of the dog owner. Not only was it their irresponsibility and often selfishness which led to the attack in the first place, but their irresponsibility means that the victim’s suffering will continue.

If you have suffered a dog attack and want further advice on the possibility of bringing a compensation claim dog bite solicitor James McNally can be contacted on 0333 888 0435 or via email.

Uninsured dog owners – A difficult call to make
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