Cattle Attacks

It is a worrying yet little known fact that personal injuries caused by cattle (usually bulls or cows) are on the increase.

Between 2000 and 2020, cattle were responsible for the deaths of 98 people, making them the deadliest animals in Britain. These fatalities often involved a bull attack but attacks by cows are also surprisingly common. Those most frequently victims when cattle attack are farmers or people working with or near cattle. Members of the public are also at risk with dog walkers seemingly in greater peril.

The frequent presence of cattle grazing around public footpaths and ramblers’ haunts make them a present danger to anyone who gets too close. Despite their image as lazy, lumbering creatures the average cow can run at seventeen miles an hour (for reference, the average human can only manage about twelve). In the period from 2018 to 2019 alone, the HSE investigated forty-three incidents of people being attacked or killed by cattle.

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The Responsibilities Of Farmers

Cattle are not considered a dangerous animal as defined in the Animals Act 1971 but owners of cattle (usually farmers) can be strictly liable for injury for any attacks by their cattle if certain conditions are met.

If a farmer’s cattle are grazing near a public footpath, a farmer has a duty to make any walkers aware of any known dangers which may be posed to them by the livestock. This can be done through signs or other warnings alerting any walkers to the dangers of cattle.

Walkers are entitled to be able to use public footpaths, and the footpaths should not be restricted in such a way that they can no longer be accessed by the public.

Farmers should be aware of the dangers cattle can pose and so should keep their public liability insurance up to date. Most farmers are responsible and will have appropriate insurance in place to cover them in the event that one of their cows or bulls attacks a member of the public.

If You’ve Been Attacked By Cattle

If you have experienced an attack by a cow or bull, and have been injured, you may have a claim against the owner. Court proceedings must be issued within three years of the date of the attack for a personal injury claim to be pursued. In many cases the claim can be resolved satisfactorily without going to court and often without even needing to issue court proceedings. In cases of cattle attacks, for a claim to be successful, certain conditions as laid out in the Animals Act 1971 must be met.

These conditions are:

  • the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which, if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe;
  • the likelihood of the damage, or of its being severe, was due to characteristics of the animal         which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally so found         except in particular times or circumstances; and
  • those characteristics were known to that keeper or were at any time known to a person who       at that time had charge of the animal

Cattle attacks can lead to a wide variety of injuries which are often very serious. These include:

  • Broken and fractured arms and legs
  • Head injuries
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Fractured ribs
  • Scarring
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lacerations and bruising
  • Strains and soft tissue injuries
  • Injuries resulting in death

Such injuries can have a significant detrimental impact to the lives of those who have been injured and they may be entitled to compensation.

The amount of compensation to which you are entitled in the case of a cattle attack will depend on a number of different factors, these include:

  • The amount and level of pain and suffering caused by your injuries
  • Whether you will fully recover from your injuries
  • What treatment you have received or will require
  • The travel expenses you have incurred because of your injuries
  • The loss of earnings caused by the injuries
  • The impact any injuries will have on future employment
  • Whether care and assistance with domestic tasks has been, or will be, required

If You Have Been Attacked By Cattle At Work

Those who work with or around cattle are at an increased likelihood of being attacked by them.

If you were attacked by cattle at work, you may be entitled to compensation. In workplace cow attack claims there are other pieces of legislation which may assist in addition to the Animals Act 1971.

Avoiding Being Attacked By Cattle

There are steps you can take to be able to minimize your chance of being attacked by cattle.

  • Keep any dogs on a lead. Walking a dog near cattle increases your risk of being attacked, so being able to keep control of your dog is very important when walking near them. Cattle are very easily disturbed by dogs not kept under control.
  • Don’t walk through a field if the cattle appear distressed. This seems obvious but be on the look out for any indication that the cattle are distressed, and if they seem unhappy or irritated, avoid walking through the field. Also, if calves are present, it might be a good idea to avoid there. Some cow-related attacks are caused by newly calved cows.
  • Don’t run.If all else fails, and you do end up in a field with aggressive cattle, don’t run away. This could make them view you as more of a threat – and chase you down. Cattle are faster than the average human, so it is a better idea to try to stay calm and walk away slowly. Making yourself as big as you can may also help.

There is no guarantee of a claim being successful but to maximise the chances of your claim winning you need solicitors with experience of cow and bull related attack claims on your side. Their expertise can be the difference between winning and losing. It is always in your best interest to seek legal advice as soon as you are able so that the claim can be properly investigated at the earliest opportunity. We may well be able to assist you on a No Win No Fee basis. 

Contact Us Today

If you have been injured by a cow or bull then contact us at 01642 252 828 for a no obligation, free initial enquiry. Alternatively, complete our online contact form and one of our personal injury solicitors will be in touch.


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