Motoring accidents caused by pets

Motoring accidents caused by pets

What can you do if you have an accident caused by someone’s uncontrolled dog running in front of your motorbike?

I was riding some very broken black top between two green lanes when a spaniel literally sprang out of the undergrowth in front of me. If anyone asks me if it was a springer spaniel again, I will probably have to do prison time for GBH.

It was obvious that the dog was focused on something other than me, because it dashed out in my path, leaving me minimal time to react, and I had to brake very hard.

I was on 50/50 tyres on a damp and gravelly road and my front end tucked in and my motorbike landed on my leg, leaving me with what doctors have called a simple fracture to my tibia. It has cost me four weeks of lost earnings and, because I was taken away by ambulance, a police recovery fee of over £120 and police storage of a further £140 (for the bike).

The dog and its owner never surfaced. All I can say is that the dog was a spaniel, it was liver and white, and I can’t tell you if it had a collar on because the damned thing moved in front of me so quickly that I simply got a flash of colour and flapping ears. My motorbike is not meaningfully damaged, no worse than any other well-laned bike would be, but I understand that there is a scheme for innocent victims of road traffic collisions, and I would like to at least get my lost earnings back along with the police recovery and storage charges. Is there such a scheme?

Answer

Not for dogs I’m afraid. I think what you are referring to is the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) scheme which pays out personal injury awards and certain limited classes of out of pocket losses for the victims of untraced or uninsured drivers.

There are lots of laws coming out as to what constitutes a driver, but I am afraid a loose dog, no matter how helpfully these are interpreted, would never fall into this class.

As a matter of overarching EU Treaty Law, all members of the EU are obliged to ensure that innocent victims of uninsured or untraced drivers receive compensation in alignment with what they would have received had the driver either been traced or insured. The European scheme is largely modelled on the British MiB scheme which has been in place in the UK for decades and adopted across Europe because, frankly, it is a very good idea.

The key point of this law is that the loss has to arise from the use of a vehicle. What constitutes a vehicle is widely interpreted.

It will certainly include a car, lorry or motorcycle, but there are decisions coming out of both Europe and concessions made by the MiB that the range of vehicles is much wider including, for example, bicycles and disability scooters. However, “arising out of the use of a vehicle” does not help you with your loose spaniel.

I have successfully brought cases where people have let dogs out of cars, and then the dog has dashed out in front of a motorcyclist. I brought two cases like this successfully, and other members of my firm have similarly brought successful cases against the insurer of the vehicle, because the opening of the door and letting a dog out is an accident which arises from the use of a vehicle, or at least it was a strong enough argument for the insurers to pay out.

Unfortunately for you, I can see no legal remedy, unless you can find out who the owners of the dog were, I think your chances of ever doing that and proving that it was their dog that caused you to crash, are thin to vanishing, I am afraid you’re going to have to put this down to painful experience.

Andrew Dalton

Adventure Bike Rider August 2018

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: August 24, 2018 at 9:54 am

Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.

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