Cow Attack Victim Awarded Damages
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!