Dog Bite Compo for Work from Home Employee

8th November 2023
Category Compensation

If you are injured by a dog, then you should obtain legal advice about your rights to compensation at an early stage. The RMB Compensation Law Division outlines an interesting case.

Dog owners are almost always held liable for injuries caused by their dogs.  Often, household insurance policies cover dog owners for injuries incurred at and away from the home.

Compensation may be available under the Civil Liability Act 2002 NSW including for pain and suffering, economic loss, medical and treatment expenses and compensation for care and domestic assistance. The Companion Animals Act 1998 essentially deems the owner responsible for injuries caused by their pets regardless of whether negligence or fault can be proven.

In a recent case, COVID restrictions led to unique circumstances in a dog attack on a person working from home.

In State of NSW v Knight [2023] NSW PICPD63, the Personal Injury Commission considered the claim of a case worker in a Court diversion program whose role involved counselling persons before sentencing. Ms Knight was working from home as a result of the stay at home Orders and because she was immune-compromised.

In 2021 she sustained severe lacerations to her right hand when she attempted to intervene in a dog attack on her daughter’s puppy who was outside the front door of her home. The worker claimed compensation, but the workers compensation insurer argued that the injury did not arise out of or in the course of her employment which had been interrupted when she attended the dog attack.

The Commission accepted that the only reason the puppy was outside was to enable the worker to continue with her employment in a professional manner and without interruption.  It was considered as to whether the employer would have had the expectation that the worker would disregard the distress of the puppy and continue with her work. The Member was satisfied that the worker’s actions were a reasonable and practical necessity and were consistent with what her employer would have reasonably expected in the circumstances.

The Commission was ultimately satisfied that the injury arose out of the course of employment and that employment was a substantial contributing factor to the injury. Therefore, the worker was entitled to workers compensation.

The decision has broader implications in more than just dog bite cases in demonstrating that a worker may be entitled to workers compensation when working from home in circumstances which may seem to be unrelated to employment.

If you require further information, or simply need advice from experienced professionals, your first step should be to contact our office to arrange a free consultation. You can contact us by by phone or our 'Ask a Question' tool on our website.