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Law Column: What are my options following dog bite 

Question: 

I dropped my four-year-old little boy to my neighbour’s house for a playdate recently and during his visit, he was bitten badly by their Jack Russell dog, on the face. 

Thankfully, I was close by and came to his assistance within minutes as he was extremely upset. I took him to the A&E Department at CUH and they gave him a tetanus injection, antibiotics and used steri-strips on the puncture marks where the dog bit him on the cheek. 

They did warn me that he may be left with a scar and that he may also need plastic surgery in time. The last thing I want to do is pursue the matter legally, but I may be left with no option. Can you please advise?

Answer: 

I am so sorry to hear of this incident which must have been terrifying for your son. 

The Control of Dogs legislation effectively provides that the owner of a dog which causes an injury such as occurred here is strictly liable for same. 

In short, therefore, your son has an entitlement to claim against the dog owner and should be successful. The real practical issue is whether or not the owner of the dog has insurance for such events. 

If there is no insurance, then one has to consider whether or not the owners have the assets to pay the award that would be made in favour of your son. If they have not got the assets or the insurance, then there is little point in taking action. I would suggest you contact a Solicitor without delay.

Melissa Gowan is a Partner in the Litigation Department in Cantillons Solicitors of 38/39 South Mall, Cork an award-winning law firm practising in all areas of litigation.

Since the firm was founded in 1980, they have been involved in precedent making cases, amongst them Best V. Wellcome, Louise O’ Keeffe v. Ireland and most recently Costello V. HSE, a medical negligence claim in which they achieved damages of €17.8 million, the highest ever award in Irish personal injury litigation to date. Cantillons Solicitors received the award of Munster Law Firm of the Year (Over 5 Solicitors) at the AIB Irish Law Awards 2016.

*This weekly column is a readers’ service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

No individual correspondence will be entered into. Email your queries tolegalqueries@cantillons.com