A six-year-old schoolgirl, who will be scarred for life after being “savagely attacked by a neighbour’s dog,” was yesterday awarded €40,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.
Barrister Barney Quirke said that, in October 2013, Emily Counihan was close to her home at Mountain View, Crinken Glen, Shankill, Co Dublin, when a dog owned by neighbour Margaret Quinlan attacked her.
He told Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke the dog, a mongrel named Sophie, had bitten Emily in the face, lacerating her upper lip area. She had been taken to hospital, where the cut had been stitched.
The court heard that the wound had left a 2cm scar on Emily’s face and she was very conscious of it.
Mr Quirke said that the colour of Emily’s scar changed in different weather conditions.
Judge Groarke was told the scar was visible and permanent, and may need to be treated with laser when Emily is 16. The court heard Emily suffered some psychological trauma following the attack and was now wary of dogs.
Through her mother, Sinead Counihan, Emily sued her neighbour, Ms Quinlan, of Mountain View, Crinken Glen, Shankill, Co Dublin, for negligence.
Emily’s legal team claimed that Ms Quinlan had failed to ensure her dog was kept in a secured and fenced area, and had allowed her to stray from her property without adequate supervision. The dog had a known violent propensity and therefore should have been restrained or muzzled.
Mr Quirke, who appeared with Kenny Sullivan solicitors, said Ms Quinlan’s insurer, RSA Insurance, had made a €40,000 settlement offer and he recommended its acceptance.
Judge Groarke, approving the offer, said that although it was not the case in the claim before the court, very often people walking their dogs did not muzzle ones that were supposed to be muzzled and it was very often the case that owners did not have any insurance.
“Some dog owners have a total disregard for their responsibility in public places,” Judge Groarke said.
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