Cow Attack Victim Awarded Damages

Crazy Ku From CPD Webinars 06/07/09:

A police inspector left unable to work for five months after being trampled by a herd of cattle has been awarded more than £10,000 from the landowner.

Inspector Chris Poole suffered a punctured lung, four broken ribs and a severed artery when he was crushed by a herd of some 30 cows, while walking his dog on the Sussex Downs.
The landowner agreed an out-of-court settlement, claiming that not enough was done to protect public footpath users from the animals.

Under common law, farmers have a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of people lawfully on their land. They can also be liable for failing to take extra safety measures – such as the erection of warning signs or fences – if their animals are behaving aggressively or in an unusual manner.

While generally docile creatures, cows can behave in a threatening way if their maternal instincts are aroused by unusual disturbances such as dogs.

As a child I remember having a run-in with a herd of angry cows which at the time did seem very scary. Anyone who thinks that bulls are the only domestic ruminant which can turn nasty is simply wrong. Living in a rural area, though, meant that I couldn’t exactly avoid our Friesian friends forever and I inevitably learnt that ‘standing one’s ground’ is by far the best means of handling it.

A spokesman for the National Farmers Union gave some sound advice:

"Our advice to walkers is if you have a dog with you, keep it on a lead, but do not hang on to it should a cow or bull start acting aggressively.
"If you feel threatened, just carry on as normal, do not run, move to the edge of the field and if possible find another way round."

Blind panic should only ever be a last resort! 


  1. Cows can be incredibly scary, the main points to remember is a) they're all much bigger than you are, b) they move in huge packs, c) they have a strong protective instinct, d) bulls.

    There are fairly good reasons to be wary of cows. I have a suspicion that the advice about not running away from cows stems as much from the risk of them outrunning you as it does with tripping as you flee.

  2. Yep cows are scary, particularly if they have young. We keep cows so I'm pretty used to them, but there was one time where my mum and I in her jeep got into a staring match with the neighbouring farm's bull (who decided to stand in the middle of our lane), it was scary (even tho we were incased in metal - but it was one of those highlander cows with HUGE horns.

    That said if anyone saw what to eat now on TV earlier in the week where a woman kept cows on common land in the middle of Cambridge for local produce and everyone was wandering round petting them and walking their dogs around them - paints such a different picture.

  3. That policeman is lucky to have escaped with his life ( I suspect the farmer whos anmials did the damage knew this when he settled, public footpath or no) I once nursed someone who died as a result of bieng sat on by a cow. Sounds funny, but the injuries sustained were truly horrendous, and death did not come quickly.....

  4. Minx thats awful. It does sound funny but its definitely not... the poor person. I went on a school trip once and there were cows grazing about all the time. I took pictures (yes - I know its a tad sad - but it was the first time I'd actually seen cows in real life as opposed to on TV). Anyway the cows were scary...

    Oh the poor policeman. Although I don't think it was the farmer's fault. If people can't control their own children (note increasing need for ASBOs), how on earth does one expect to control other animals?


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