The Law & Liability – Accidents caused by animals straying onto roads

Prior to the Animals Act of 1985, no liability was attached to the owner of domestic animals which strayed onto the road and caused damage and so provided for an immunity to landowners in respect of animals straying onto the roadway. Gibbs – v – Comerford (1942 Irish Law Reports).

As a result of the application of the said rule, prior to 1985, landowners were immune from the ordinary principles of negligence in relation to domestic animals including horses which strayed onto the public roadway. They therefore had no duty to erect or maintain fences around their property.

Under the new law (Section 2 Animals Act, 1985), the said immunity was removed and the owner of an animal which escapes onto the public roadway and causes damage may be liable in both negligence and nuisance.
“Duty to take care to prevent damage by animals straying on to public road.
2.(1) So much of the rules of the common law relating to liability for negligence as excludes or restricts the duty which a person might owe to others to take such care as is reasonable to see that damage is not caused by an animal straying on to a public road is hereby abolished.”

It can be stated in general, that if the landowner exercises due care by erecting suitable fences, properly maintaining the fences, keeping the entrance gate closed and by taking all reasonable precautions to prevent his animals from straying onto the public highway, he will not have failed in his duty. So each case depends on the particular facts.

If you’ve had an accident due to animals on the road and suffered personal injury you may be entitled to claim compensation. Contact our legal team today at Synnott Lawline to discuss your claim. Freefone 1800 20 40 60