A man knocked off his bike by an out-of-control dog on a retractable lead has won a £65,000 payout from the dog’s owner. Anthony Steele, 59, suffered a fractured skull when the dog leapt into his path while he was training for a Coast to Coast to event in Heysham in 2012.
Steele was riding with 10 other people when he noticed a group of people in the middle of the path and rang his bell to let them know he needed them to move aside.
However, as he passed by, a dog is said to have leapt in front of him and his bike became caught up with the retractable lead causing him to fall. Steele was off work for seven weeks and required neuro-psychotherapeutic therapy and cognitive rehab.
Recalling the incident, Steele said:
“The last thing I can remember before hitting the ground was seeing a small white dog dart across my path and noticing the thin black lead getting trapped in my wheels. I had no idea of the severity of my injuries suffered until I had come round in hospital and my wife, Lynne informed me of the skull fracture.
“The experience has left me with permanent hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, balancing issues and pain in my right shoulder. I can’t quite believe that all of this has been caused by someone who could not control their dog or be aware of their surroundings.”
It took Steele three years to track down the woman in charge of the dog. The case was due to be heard at Manchester County Court, but an out-of-court settlement was reached and Steele will receive £65,000 to help pay for his rehabilitation.
He told The Telegraph that the woman involved had only been walking the dog for a friend.
"All I wanted out of this was to get the financial support I needed for my rehabilitation and to raise awareness of how dangerous retractable dog leads can be, especially if people don't know what they're doing with them.
"She's just a little old woman in her 70s. I don't believe she has a dog of her own, and this dog belonged to her friend. She certainly wasn't au fait with the lead so I think it just ran away with her, which is when I got tangled up in it.
"They can be quite complicated to work if you don't know what you're doing and sadly the consequences didn't work out well for me."
Dianne Yates, a partner at law firm Birchall Blackburn Law, which represented Steele, said: “Retractable leads are popular because they don’t confine dogs, however some extend to 26 feet and being such a distance from their owners can prove hazardous for cyclists, joggers and children.
“Mr Steele’s injuries could have been averted if the owner was in control. Instead, this complete lack of awareness and restraint has had a major impact on Mr Steel’s life. His dizziness and poor balance has meant he has struggled to get back on his bike or play football for fear of further injury.”