A recent case which saw a driver receive £7000 from a farm owner following a road traffic accident involving cows on a public road shows how such claims can be pursued.
Driving along a dark country road at night, in an area which had seen difficult weather conditions, a female driver came around a bend in the road only to be met by a number of cows which had escaped from a field, with one of the animals running towards her car.
The driver braked, but this couldn’t prevent her hearing a “number of thumps” as her car came to a stop. She left her car to find the distressing sight of a cow lying on the ground and called for a vet.
The driver suffered physical and psychological injuries from the accident, as well as significant damage to her vehicle.
Our personal injury specialists argued that the owner of the cows, a farmer, had failed to keep the livestock under proper control and failed to ensure that fences and gates were effective and properly maintained, so as to safeguard against any chance of escape.
Those arguments were accepted by the farmer’s representatives and the settlement was achieved.
Making a claim for injury by livestock
One of the most important steps is to identify the owner of the animals, which can be tricky especially in rural areas. Fortunately, many such animals are chipped and if the one in question is, it should be easier to identify the owner.
Once the owner is identified, an intimation of claim can be made setting out your arguments and asking the farmer to identify their insurer. All farm owners should have insurance in place for public liability to protect them against any potential injury claims.
While under certain circumstances farmers can be held strictly liable for injuries to persons under the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987, the animal has to be of the type that is expected to injure or damage and that injury/damage should be directly related to the animal’s attributes.
This means that it is easier to pursue a claim under common law for injuries that arise as a result of livestock being loose on roads.
What if your injury has occurred on a farm?
Farmers have a duty to any visitors to their farm in relation to protecting them from risks associated with livestock, and this is the case whether the visitor is permitted to be there or not. A farmer must take reasonable steps to safeguard against the risk of livestock injuring visitors and liability will attach if the farmer knew or ought to have foreseen the risk of injury. The Occupier’s (Scotland) Act 1960 governs such cases.
The right to roam – farmers beware
Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, the public now have a right to roam free in lands across Scotland. As such, farmers should be aware of their duties in terms of injuries and ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken to safeguard against risks associated with livestock.
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