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May 9th 2012

Personal Injury

Dangerous dogs and jury service

Dangerous dogs and jury service

First Thursday of the month again, which can mean only one thing.

First Thursday of the month again, which can mean only one thing.

Time for WHCR FM’s Legal Eagle to take to the wing, and travel the short distance from Holderness Road to Anlaby Road, for another hour of answering listener’s questions.

This week we decided to concentrate on a topic which has been the subject of much recent press interest, namely  injuries caused by animals (predominantly dogs).

Most of the time I don’t (or can’t) prepare very much for the Legal Eagle slot, as I have no advance warning of the questions which listeners have phoned in with (or emailed to the studio).   To that extent, I am simply doing on the radio what I do in the office day in day out, namely advising clients “on the hoof”, which is what most lawyers do the first time they speak to any new client, or answer a general enquiry.

Some (in fact most) queries can be answered on the spot by an experienced solicitor once a degree of legal experience has been acquired (assuming of course that the question relates to the solicitor’s area of expertise), but of course there is always the odd query from left of field, to which no immediate answer is obvious.   A lawyer who still enjoys his job will find such queries a challenge, and will not usually be satisfied until they have come up with the answer, or at least “an” answer.

This week was a bit different.  I decided to do some dog research, to give me a few stats to include in our dog injuries discussion, which made a bit of a change.

As I set off for the studio, I tuned into the last 30 minutes of the WHCR breakfast show, to get into the right mind set.

On arrival at the studio, I had a quick chat with the big boss (Dave Fewster), who told me all about the stations exciting new studios which are just being put together, ready for the station’s move in the near future. They certainly sound very impressive.  “State of the Art”, I’m assured. As an admitted radio geek, I have to say that I can’t wait to take a look.

And then we were off and running.

Fiona Mills looked well after her recent break, and had a reasonably long list of questions for me, mostly to do with animals.

Nobody in the studio guessed what the most aggressive dog breed is (at least according to the web site statistics which I’d found).  Any ideas ?  All I’ll say is that if you bend over to stroke a dachshund (sausage dog), be careful. Be very careful !

The stats about the number of people bitten and injured by dogs every year (210,000) were also quite alarming, and clearly show that there is a need to take a look at what can be done about it.

As things stand as present, if you own a dog categorised by The Dangerous Dogs Act as being dangerous (for example the infamous Pit Bull Terrier), then you must muzzle them when you are in a public space. If you don’t, then you can be prosecuted, and you are likely to be legally liable to pay compensation to anybody that the dog injures.

Recent Government announcements have suggested that the scope of this legislation may be extended, so that the duty also will exist on the dog owner’s own property, rather than just in public areas. Bad news for dog owners, good news for innocent people who get bitten whilst legitimately on somebody else’s land.

As always, the listeners had sent in a good range of questions, not all of which were dog related, and I hope that the answers I provided were of assistance.

One of the last questions which we received was about jury service.  A listener had just got a summons, requiring them to attend to “do their duty” on a date when they were due to be away on a pre-booked holiday.   Would they have to cancel their holiday, and if so, could they claim back the cost of the holiday ?

I had to be honest, and say that I didn’t know the answer for sure, but that my gut reaction was that there must be a way round this so that the listener wouldn’t have to forego their holiday.

At the end of the show, I winged my way back to Holderness Road, and the first thing I did ?  I looked up the answer to the jury service question I’d not been sure about earlier in the morning (I must still enjoy my job).   Turns out that my guess was right, you can defer jury service if you have a good reason, such as a holiday which you have booked and paid for before you receive the summons.

Well you learn something new every day !

 

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