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Veterinary Negligence

When your animal is treated by a vet, the vet owes a duty of care to the owner of that animal. Vets should exercise a reasonable standard of care and skill, the same that would be expected from another vet with equivalent qualifications.

If your vet fails to meet that standard, it is likely they have been negligent and you might be entitled to compensation.

For a vet to be negligent, their actions must have resulted in harm, loss, injury or damage.

Unfortunately, the courts measure loss as the pure financial loss involved rather than the emotional and sentimental loss or suffering of your animal. Sadly, this means that a lot of veterinary negligence cases are not pursued for commercial reasons.

If you think you may have a negligence claim against a vet who has recently treated your animal, please get in touch with our team of specialist veterinary negligence lawyers.

Remember, you usually have six years from the date that you suffered loss arising from the negligent act.


Veterinary Negligence Q & A

I have recently purchased a horse for £20,000 to compete in show jumping competitions. I had an independent vet carry out a five-stage vetting which the horse passed with flying colours. I’ve only had the horse for 3 weeks and he’s lame and now on box rest. Is there anything I can do?

The first question is what is the cause of lameness and is that cause likely to have been present at the time the examination was carried out?

To answer this question you will require the input of an independent vet. You will also need to prove that a reasonably competent vet in those circumstances should have identified the problem at the time of the vetting.

If you can prove that the vet failed to identify the problem with the support of veterinary evidence, you may be able to claim compensation.

Compensation could include any reduction in value taking into account the impact of the condition upon the horse’s value when compared to the purchase price paid. You may also be able to recover the veterinary fees associated with the treatment of the condition.

I had my cat spayed 7 months ago but I am still having issues with her behaviour. I took her to the vets last week and it turns out she that she still has one ovary. What are my options?

Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be proportionate to pursue the vet in this case for commercial reasons – i.e. the costs involved are likely to be higher than the compensation you would receive.

Try to think of what outcome you would be happy with. Maybe you want an apology, a refund, free corrective treatment or compensation. Then have a discussion with your vet. You might also consider making a complaint to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) if you are unhappy with the solutions offered by your vet.

My dog had an operation 6 months ago from which he recovered well. I recently felt a hard object in his stomach and took him to the vets for a check-up. When we had him x-rayed, we discovered that the vet had left a piece of equipment that had been used in the operation. He is now having some problems with his kidneys and is back and forth at the vets for treatment. He is unlikely to make a full recovery. I want to sue the vet, can you help?

It’s quite clear that the vet acted negligently by failing to remove the equipment from your dog during the operation and it will be difficult for them to deny this.

Before issuing a claim, you should speak with your vet as they might be willing to operate on the dog to remove the apparatus free of charge. If this is the case, the potential amount of compensation is likely to be limited to any ongoing treatment required that is not paid by your vets or recoverable from your insurers in addition to those fees already incurred as a result of this. If it is possible to link the negligent act to the kidney problems, you might also be able to claim compensation for the money you have spent on costs associated with the kidney treatment from the vets.


For information or advice on any potential veterinary negligence claim, please contact Caroline Bowler on 0115 9 100 200 or click here to send an email.

Posted on March 17, 2020

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