Dog bite claim brings justice to self-employed

Sustaining a dog bite injury is sometimes viewed as an unlucky experience, one to be forgotten about. This is, however, not an option for the rising number of self-employed individuals in the UK. With self-employment figures consistently rising since the beginning of 2010, the full implications of being unable to continue with day-to-day tasks must be considered, especially when taking into account a dog bite claim.

A self-employed artist, who earns a living from drawing graphic illustrations for publications and exhibitions, will find it essential to be able to meet deadlines and work consistently in order to ensure that his clients’ contracts are met. James Stephensen, a graphic illustrator living in Shoreditch, London, suffered what was medically considered to be a small injury to the right hand when he was bitten by a dog. The incident occurred when Mr Stephensen was returning from a night out. Mr Stephensen reported that he was waiting at a bus stop for a night bus at approximately 12.45am, when a dog walker holding a large Labrador on a lead approached the bus stop. Mr Stephensen later reported that he had found it odd to see somebody walking a dog so late, though did not think much of it at the time. However, Stephensen apparently noticed the dog growling as it got nearer and, without any warning, the dog bit his right hand. The owner seemed ‘eager to get out of the situation’, though Stepehensen managed to exchange contact details with the man before he went on his way. The bite seemed to be relatively small, so Stephensen waited until he got home to treat the wound. However, when he woke the next morning, the wound had become swollen and red in colour. Stephensen went to his GP that day and was given antibiotics and told to rest his hand for at least a week. The swelling and the rest advice prevented Mr Stephensen from completing a number of projects he had been expecting to finish and he lost out on two client contracts due to the dog bite.

Before continuing with this case study, there are a couple of points to make about how a dog bite claim will really bring justice to the self-employed Mr Stephensen in this case. Had Mr Stephensen not been self-employed and worked for a company, it is likely he would not have to worry about the financial losses incurred by the dog bite. He would either have taken paid sick leave, or more likely worked in the office doing a task that could be done without great use of his right hand. The second point is that he would be less likely to lose any long term working relationships or clients on account of his injury, as the company would be able to either hire somebody else to finish the projects or use someone already within the company. Mr Stephensen would still be able to make a dog bite claim in this scenario, though it probably would not be for financial losses.

However, Mr Stephensen was self-employed and had neither a sick-leave salary nor the option of hiring anybody else in to finish his projects – he lost two contracts and had no power to do anything about it. This is when Mr Stephensen decided to look into making a dog bite claim. He felt that it was unfair that because he was self-employed he should lose out financially for something that was not his fault. After enquiring as to whether he would have a case for a dog bite claim, he found that he won a considerable amount of compensation and was extremely glad that he had insisted on obtaining the dog owner’s contact details. He felt that justice had been served and continued with his graphic design.

A similar scenario played out when Sarah Golding, a self-employed backing dancer, was bitten on her leg in London on her way back from her gym. Since Sarah’s salary depended on moving from contract to contract, it was essential that she stayed in peak physical condition in order to make her living. The dog bite resulted in her being unable to perform as a backing dancer for five days in a concert she was working on at the time. She also missed three auditions for future jobs. Sarah sought the appropriate legal advice and rightly made a dog bite claim. She not only received compensation, but also physiotherapy for her injury.

A dog bite claim is essential for anybody who is elf-employed and finds that a dog bite negatively affects their income or business.


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