Volunteer photographer recommended to Step Legal Solicitors by a family member secures £30,000 compensation following an unprovoked dog attack
Many people who come to us for personal injury advice do so on the basis of a recommendation
made by someone who has already benefited from using our service.
This is how we came to be instructed by a young woman recently who had suffered a nasty injury to her left arm following a dog attack at an animal shelter, and whose mother had encouraged her to get in touch following her own positive experience of using us to make a personal injury claim.
The client had been at the shelter as a volunteer, photographing dogs in need of rehoming. She had crouched down to take a picture of a labrador, when it suddenly lurched towards her face. Instinctively, she had put up her arm to protect herself and before she knew it the dog had hold of her and would not let go.
Fellow volunteers rushed to her aid and spent several minutes trying to free her. However, by the time they succeeded the client had already sustained deep lacerations to her arm which were bleeding profusely and causing her significant pain. She was also in a severe state of shock.
An urgent trip to A & E followed, during which doctors confirmed that it would be necessary to operate on the affected arm to remove damaged tissue and to wash out and close the wound to minimise the risk of infection and to improve the appearance of inevitable scarring. They warned of the risk of nerve damage too, which the client did go on to develop and for which she had to be monitored via nerve conduction studies and a series of electromyograms.
The client was also subsequently diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which necessitated her being put under the care of a psychologist and undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Consequences of the Incident
The impact this had on the client was enormous, as dog bite and animal attack lawyer Anna Rushton explains:
“At the time of the incident, the client was part way through a two year photography degree which she loved and had hoped would lead to a fruitful career. However, she was forced to abandon her studies when she discovered that the damage caused to the nerves in her arm left her unable to operate a camera as quickly and skilfully as she would need to if she wanted to go professional, and she began suffering flashbacks every time she looked through the view finder.”
“In an attempt to overcome her fears and understand why the dog had acted in the way that it had, she decided to enrol on a canine behaviour and training course but had to abandon this too because she could not cope.”
“Therefore, by the time the client came to see us, she was resigned to the fact that she would have to retrain for a third time. However, she also openly acknowledged that this would have to be put on hold as she had since welcomed a baby with her long-term partner and was now keen to stay at home, at least while the child was small.”
“Our job was to therefore secure her enough compensation to cover her retraining costs as and when she decided to resume her studies, together with an amount to reflect the income she might have earned had she been able to complete her degree and pursue a career as a photographer.”
“We also, of course, needed to ensure that she received adequate recompense for the pain and suffering she had been through and, in certain respects, continued to endure.”
Formulating the Claim for Compensation
Fortunately, given the circumstances of the case, the owners of the animal shelter held their hands up quickly and admitted that they were at fault for what had happened. This meant that there was no need for us to prove liability before a claim for compensation could be made and we could instead move straight to discussing how much ought to be paid.
We had hoped negotiations in this regard would be straightforward and that there would be no need for court action. However, we were wrong, as the insurer acting for the shelter disputed our claim for retraining costs and lost income, given that it was clear our client had no immediate intention to seek work and there was a question mark over whether her earlier decision to abandon her studies was purely down to the incident or if there were other factors at play.
Accordingly, proceedings did have to be issued, although, as Anna explains, we were ultimately able to settle the case without the need for a formal hearing:
“Shortly after proceedings were commenced, we received a cash offer of £18,500. This was a good opener but significantly less than we felt the claim was worth. We maintained our position and pushed for a higher figure, which ultimately resulted in a revised offer of £30,000 which the client was happy to accept.”
“In addition, the insurer agreed to fund the CBT and EMDR that the client needed to help her cope with ongoing psychological issues and which I am thrilled to say have gone a long way to aiding her rehabilitation and recovery.”
What the Client thinks of the Service she received?
Commenting on our handling of the case shortly after the settlement was agreed, the client said:
“The way Step Legal Solicitors handled my case was brilliant. They were understanding and non-judgmental, explained everything I needed to know in a clear and simple way and always made sure I was kept up-to-date with what was happening.”
“And the compensation I have received has been life-changing.”
“I know it sounds dramatic, but as soon as I took the call to say my claim had been agreed, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders because I finally had the closure I needed to enable me to move forward.”
“It is also very comforting to know that when I feel ready to get back into education with a view to qualifying into some sort of alternative career, I will have the financial means to do this.”
Do you need help following a Dog Bite or Animal Attack?
If you need help to make a personal injury claim following a dog bite or animal attack, why not contact Anna on 0800 1956412 to see if she can assist? Alternatively, why not pop into our office in Crewe and ask to speak to a member of our team?