Scottish government ‘should consider’ compulsory dog insurance to compensate attack victims



Heather Tierney
Heather Tierney

The Scottish government should consider legislating to require dog owners to hold insurance so that victims of dog attacks can be fairly compensated, a lawyer has said.

Heather Tierney, a senior solicitor at Watermans, said victims are often left with “little option” in terms of compensation because insurance is not compulsory.

Her intervention comes shortly after MSPs, who are currently considering new animal cruelty laws, noted that the number of dog attacks has not fallen since the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act was introduced in 2010.

Ms Tierney, who has worked on a number of personal injury cases involving dog attacks, said: “Dog attacks are a public health issue. Cases such as Veronica Lynch’s daughter Kellie who was killed by a dog are a true tragedy.

“Urgent action ought to be taken by the government in response to the increasing number of dog attacks. Injured parties can be left permanently disfigured, and in some instances, lose their life however they are often left with little option in terms of compensation.”

She added: “One of the main considerations after such an attack is whether the keeper of the animal can pay compensation if this is awarded. If the keeper has insurance, the insurer will likely cover the cost. However, insurance for owners of animals is sadly not compulsory leaving many injured individuals uncompensated.

“I support the current legislative changes being considered however in my view they do not go far enough. Without compulsory dog insurance, those who are injured are a result of these attacks are left in a very difficult position in terms of pursuing a claim for their injuries and losses.

“These cases often involve children who are left with lifelong, significant scarring. Tougher criminal sanctions and control orders after the event has already taken place do not assist the injured person with their recovery nor does it compensate them for their injuries. The government ought to be seriously considering compulsory dog insurance.”



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