18 January 2024

XL Bully Ban: what are your rights if bitten by a banned dog breed?

Steve Hennegan Partner & Head of Personal Injury
XL Bully

As of 31st December 2023, it’s illegal to “allow XL Bully dogs to stray in England and Wales” under a UK-wide government ban. In fact, owners will have a legal mandate to ensure their pets are muzzled and on a lead at all times in a public place.

“Following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully type dogs, the government has added this breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.”

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So, what can you do if bitten by a banned breed of dogs? Let’s explore your rights.

Deaths due to dog bites up 180%

Incidents of dog bites are on the rise, with a reported 22% increase over the last three years. In Nottingham alone, there was a 31% surge in cases in 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

In some highly publicised cases, such as those of 10-year old Jack Lis from Caerphilly, victims of XL Bully bites have tragically died. Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that the total number of deaths attributed to dog bites have in fact risen by 180% over the past year - but it’s important to clarify that these are still relatively small numbers, climbing from five fatalities in 2022 to 14 so far this year. 

Claim compensation for dog bite injuries

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, it could have damaging physical or psychological effects. You are entitled to claim compensation for this as well as for any special damages incurred (such as loss of earnings due to time off work or medical procedures) and long-term impacts - such as needing to modify your home to account for any additional mobility needs.

If you have been the victim of a dog attack and wish to explore your legal right to seek compensation, it is important that you do so within three years of the incident - or your claim may be deemed as invalid.

Most personal injury claims as a result of dog bites are paid for by the insurance of responsible dog owners. So, it’s important to note that under the XL Bully ban, the owners of the breed will have a legal requirement to ensure they have third-party liability insurance in place - in case any such incidents occur. 

Seeking help without attributing blame

We understand that for some people, seeking legal recompense for a dog bite may make them feel uneasy. What if the dog is put to sleep, or the owner held personally accountable for the incident?

It’s important to recognise that no one incident of a dog bite or injury incurred by a dog is the same. Each report is dealt with on a case by case basis, and your testimony will always be taken into account.

If the case is deemed to be an accident and the dog has no history of violence, it is very unlikely that the owner will face prosecution or that the dog will be put to sleep. 

However, if the circumstances are not accidental and a dog owner has been found to have deliberately allowed their dog to injure someone, they can face up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. 

With the legal mandate to muzzle banned breeds of dogs, judges are likely to treat those who flout the law with harsher penalties - which by extension may deliver increased compensation amounts for victims. 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a dog attack, get in touch with our expert team today to discuss how a personal injury claim could change your life for the better.

Need help?

Contact Steve to discuss this further.

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