Dog Bite Injury – Compensation

In Queensland, dog laws are not as strict as in other states and owners will not automatically be liable for your injuries if either you or your dog receives a dog bite. In fact, it can be difficult to prove that a dog owner was negligent and therefore liable for your injuries unless the animal has previously been classified as “dangerous” or “menacing” due to aggressive behaviour. This is sometimes referred to as the “one free bite” rule.

Hand injury caused by dog bite

I was bitten by a dog - can I claim compensation?

Compensation is available if you can prove a dog owner was negligent. Negligence occurs where there is a foreseeable risk of injury posed by a dog, but the person with control over the animal fails to take appropriate action to prevent injury to others. Where a dog has engaged in aggressive behaviour previously, this can be used as proof that a foreseeable risk existed that the owner should have been aware of. 

In order to claim compensation from a dog owner, including medical costs you need to show that the dog owner was negligent. This generally means you need to prove that the dog had a history of aggression or had been declared “dangerous” or “menacing” by your local council. 

Where you cannot claim compensation from the dog’s owner, your health insurance, or other domestic insurance policies may cover medical costs for which you are out of pocket.

Injured? Get expert advice now: Smith's are Queensland's only 100% risk-free injury compensation lawyers. Insist on our 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch' ® promise. Check your rights with no risk or obligations now and talk direct to our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith. Call 1800 266 801 OR  check if you can claim

More information - read more about public place injury compensation claims.

How do I report a dangerous dog?

Reporting a dangerous dog

If you wish to report an aggressive dog, contact your local council as soon as possible. Provide as many details as you can about any incidents involving the dog including:

  • the date, time and location of any attack;
  • what happened; and
  • where the dog is kept.

A dog may be declared “dangerous” by the council if it:

  • has seriously attacked someone or their animal; or
  • has by its behaviour caused fear to someone or another animal.

Alternatively, a dog may be declared “menacing” if it has:

  • attacked someone or another animal in a “non-serious” way; or
  • behaved in a way that causes fear to a person or another animal.

How to determine whether a dog has been declared “dangerous” or “menacing”?

In Queensland, dogs that have been declared “dangerous” or “menacing” must wear a collar with a yellow tag at all times identifying it as a “Regulated Dog”. Penalties apply for failures to do this. 

Determining if a dog is dangerous

If the dog is not wearing a collar, call your local council to enquire about whether the dog is registered as a regulated dog, or whether any previous aggressive behaviour has been reported.

My dog was bitten by another  dog - can I ask its owner to pay my vet bills?

If a dog attacks another animal causing injuries, its owner may be liable to compensate the other animal’s owner for consequential vet bills.  Liability will arise where the dog’s owner has been negligent in restraining or controlling the animal in the circumstances. Queensland laws require that owners take reasonable steps to make sure their dog doesn’t attack another animal such as by keeping it on a lead. 

However, a dog owner will not usually be liable for a dog bite or attack in circumstances where:

  • the dog had no history of aggressive behaviour
  • the other animal comes onto the premises where the dog is kept
  • the dog has been teased or abused prior to the attack, or
  • the dog is protecting someone known to it from the other animal.

I have a dog bite -  what do I do?

Seek medical attention after dog bite

If you have been the victim of a dog bite or attack, it is wise to seek medical treatment straight away. It is also wise to take a record of the incident and your injuries in case you need to make a person injury claim later on. 

If possible:

  • Take photographs of the dog and your injuries
  • Write down a description of the events that lead to the attack including the date and time, and the actions of the dog owner if they were present
  • Keep medical reports which detail your injuries, the treatment you received and any ongoing treatment that will be required
  • Keep receipts for medical bills
  • Keep records of missed work and earnings which result from your injuries, and
  • Record contact details of witnesses to the accident and their statements.

If you have suffered significant injuries and financial losses as a result of the attack, speak to a lawyer about your prospects of claiming compensation from the owner of the dog. For professional risk-free legal advice, contact our expert personal injury lawyers based in Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast.

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Last update on:
September 10, 2020
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.