Beware of Wombat: Pet Bite Injuries - Can You Get Compensated?


Stories of someone’s pet suddenly biting or attacking someone are surprising but common.

While some people like to keep exotic pets such as snakes and spiders, bites from man’s best friends are by far the most common and the wounds caused by a bite can cause permanent personal injury, damage and scarring.

In some Australian states, the law regarding pet and dog attacks has become part of legislation, but this has not yet happened in Queensland. Instead, a common law claim applies in relation to personal injury law, following a bite injury.

If you are bitten by an animal, you should immediately seek medical attention. In addition to being potentially serious injuries, animal bites (even from ‘clean’, domesticated pets) can be susceptible to infection.


Claim Options

A pet bite compensation claim will cover all of your physical and psychological injuries and losses, and for serious (e.g. permanent) injuries, cover past and future costs you may incur.

Some examples of things you may be able to claim are:

  • Medical, rehabilitation and hospital expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Home help and nursing costs

There are two main types of actions: it is possible to make a claim against the owner of that dog in “negligence” and/or “scienter”.

Negligence Action

Negligence involves an action against the owner of the dog based on the idea that the owner should have anticipated a foreseeable risk of injury posed by the dog.

A successful action in negligence would require proof that there was a foreseeable risk of injury posed by the dog and that the owner was or should have been aware of that risk.



Scienter is an action against the owner of an animal that causes damage that does not require negligence from the owner.

When an injury has been caused by a pet dog, the owner of that dog will be liable if it can be shown that the owner had knowledge of that dog’s vicious or aggressive nature. For example, if the animal had bitten someone previously.

Pet Bites & Legal Advice

Because pet bites are not expressly covered under specific regulations, but under common law, they can be a tricky area of law. In some cases, they can even involve a court process.

Under public liability law, the usual time limit is three years from the date of the attack, but this can vary. Depending on the nature of the claim, your time limit for compensation may be much shorter. It is important to seek an informed opinion from a legal professional as soon as possible.

The Brisbane Injury Lawyers team has knowledge and experience in personal injury claims such as bites from errant animals. Our personal injury lawyers can help you take the proper steps to make a claim.


For more information, get in contact with one of our personal injury law experts at or via phone on (07) 3009 8444.