There are three types of compensation claims that can be made where an injury is caused by a dog.
If a dog owner is prosecuted by the local council, the injured person can provide a list of his or her expenses to the council who can seek an order that the owner pays compensation [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 47(1)(g)]. However, this option relies on prosecution by the local council and may be of little use if the owner has no money or assets.
Because a dog owner commits a criminal offence when a dog causes injuries, injured persons may be entitled to claim compensation for their injuries under the Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA), see VICTIMS OF CRIME - Victim's of Crime Compensation. Although the burden of proof is higher and the maximum amount of compensation much lower than what may be awarded against the owner under a Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) action, if the owner cannot be identified or does not have any money, assets or insurance, a victims of crime compensation claim may be the only claim worth making. If victims of crime compensation is awarded, the State of South Australia will pay the compensation and will try to recover the amount paid from the owner of the dog.
Another means of pursuing compensation is to take civil action against the owner of the dog under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) [s 66]. The amount that may be awarded is higher than under both of the other options discussed above. The injured person will have to prove (on the balance of probabilites) that the dog caused his or her injuries, loss or damage and determine the amount of money that will compensate him or her for those injuries, loss or damage. A person considering making a claim should seek legal advice from the Legal Services Commission, a community legal centre and/or a private lawyer.
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.