Death and injury caused by cows – what are the legal ramifications?
According to the Health and Safety figures for the year to April 2014, six farmers and members of the public died having come into contact with cows.
It is understood that the delay in the inquest was caused by a criminal investigation to see whether the farmer should face criminal charges in connection with Mr Porter’s death. It is also known that in the last few years there have been at least three other cases in the same field. Thankfully they were less tragic although serious in different ways.
What makes a cow attack you?
While some accidents will never be explained, there are some common factors:
- dogs attract more attention
- a cow may be upset by people walking between her and her calf
- there is a feeling among many in farming that foreign breeds are more unpredictable than traditional breeds such as the common Friesian.
For those who may wonder if wearing red is provocative, it is understood that bulls don't seem to have any bad reaction to the colour. They charge the bullfighter’s cape because it is moving and not because it is red.
Are farmers to blame?
The answer is, usually, no. Without wishing to comment on the Porter case, it is the reality that in most cases the farmer will be in no way to blame and the animals will be perfectly normal.
Nevertheless, the owners of cows – and indeed horses and other large animals – may be found to be liable to pay compensation under the Animals Act 1971 if their animals act dangerously.
This may seem unfair to many, but law-makers have decided that someone should insure against the risk of accidents and they have concluded that the best people to do that are the animal owners.