The law in this area is regulated by the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) . Under the Act, the owner or person into whose possession a dog has been delivered is responsible for any injury, loss or damage caused by his or her dog [s 66]. An attack by the dog is not necessarily required. The injury, loss or damage could be caused by the dog in any way [see Elliott & Anor v Andrew SADC 31]. A victim only has to show that there has been damage and that this was caused by the dog. It is not necessary to show that the person who is responsible for the dog was negligent or knew that the dog was vicious or dangerous. However, where:
- the dog was provoked
- the damage was caused by another animal attacking the dog
- the injury was to a trespasser
- the dog was being used in reasonable defence of a person or property
- the dog was in someone else's possession or control without the owner's consent, or
- the injured person contributed to the occurrence of the injury
the person who is responsible for the dog may then be only partially liable or not at all.
Most household insurance policies provide public liability cover for injuries caused by dogs on the owner's property. All dog owners should make sure that they have this type of insurance. It is also possible to buy legal liability insurance which protects dog owners no matter where the injury occurs.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.