Who pays the vet bill
in Consumer rights
41 replies 2.7K views
A landscaping contractor visiting my premises to give a quote for re-laying the Indian stone patio flags lifted a flag (without asking) and then dropped it on my dog's foot.
The dog is a small Bichon Firse who was not being a nuisance. He was standing calm, inches away from this chap right in front of him, sniffing at the bugs exposed under the flagstone. As my dog was sceaming in pain, the contractor's only comment was "Oh, very sorry I didn't see him there."
He is refusing to pay the vet bill. He says he has public liability insurance and that his insurer has advised him he is not liable. That's not my understanding of how public liability insurance works. I have paid the vet (under protest) and am considering taking the contractor to the small claims court to recover the cost of vet consultation and medication. I would appreciate any informed advice please on whether this claim is likely to be successful.
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I wouldn't have thought it particularly unreasonable for the contractor to lift a flag without asking you first. If I ask a gas engineer to give me a quote to do some work on my boiler, I don't expect him to ask me if he can examine it - that's why he's there. And I'd keep my dog out of his way - if I had one.
I didn't mention the chap's foot. He was in front of the chap with the exposed flagtone space between them. I have been advised he should have asked if it was OK to lift the flag, he should have done a risk assessment for handling a heavy item and if he was concerned he should have asked me to put the dog in the house. For my part, if the dog was giddy by nature, likely to pester him or I suspected he was going to drop the flag so close to him - without any warning - then of course I would have moved the dog away from him or it would have been in the house. The way he dropped the flag was also quite reckless and without due care and attention.
The way you describe the emphatic dropping of the flag it might have been like he was making a point.
I don't think it will be an easy one - you say he was negligent with the flag, he immediately says you were negligent letting the dog be in the way.
Dropping the flagstone was probably the only way of putting it back in place without losing any fingers.
You also had a duty of care towards your pet and should have kept it out of the way.
If he did not see the dog, it is an accident, simple as that.
It's quite normal to lift up a flagstone to see what is underneath it, as otherwise it would be difficult to quote if you don't know what the old patio is sitting on top of.
As the dog owner, it was your responsibility to keep your dog out the way, and definitely not allowing it to sniff bugs under a flagstone that had been lifted! The dog should have been no way near the lifted flagstone.
You need to claim on your own insurance.
(I have 2 dogs and when we have any contractors the dogs go in another room or outside for this very reason - they are nosy things who want to help/interfere/sniff and would get in the way!)
Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')
No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
You might want to keep that in mind when you get a quote from another contractor. (I assume you won't want to use this one... )
This all happened very quickly. We were talking as the dog approached the area and had I been given time to remove him I would but the flagstone was dropped before I could react. He should have noticed he was there and asked me to move him.
The company that I use for public liability suggest that if he didn't ask permission to lift the flag (and thereby give me time to check where the dog was) then he has to accept responsibility for handling the flagstone with care and attention and assessing the risks of handling it and replacing it.