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Articles Posted in dog bites

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Dogs can be cute, cuddly and well behaved.

But they can also have behavioural issues, or tendencies, which can make them dangerous.

Our personal injury lawyer have seen some pretty horrific injuries resulting from dog attacks. The injuries can be lifelong and quite devastating. The scars from a dog bite, to a place on the body like the face may require plastic surgery and may leave permanent scars which can’t be hidden. It’s not just the physical injuries we see. After a serious dog attack, the accident victim may get triggered whenever they see, or are in close quarters with a dog. Think about needing to go through life avoiding, or fearing dogs. If you think about it, that’s quite hard to do given the popularity of dogs as pets in Ontario.

If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog in Ontario, here are some tips and tricks for building a sustainable lawsuit in order to get you the compensation which you deserve.

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Warmer weather means more people out and about. We see more people out for walks both with and without dogs.

Some dog owners are very responsible. They curb their dog, keep them on a leash and keep the under control. Some dog owners are not. But even the most responsible dog owner may run in to a situation whereby their dog losses control.

What happens when a dog attacks someone? How does one go about making a claim for damages.

It goes without saying that you cannot sue the dog itself. But you can sue the dog owner and claim damages against him/her.

It helps if the dog owner has asset or home owners or renter’s insurance.

A dead beat dog owner without any assets and without any form of insurance will result in an fruitless case. That’s not to say that a Plaintiff won’t “win” the case. In fact, there is a very strong likelihood on a dog bite or dog attack case that the Plaintiff will “win“; and a Court will order that the Defendant dog owner pay damages.

But the Judgment will be an empty one. A Plaintiff cannot recover blood from a stone in the event that the Defendant is without any assets, and without any insurance coverage. A Judgment-Debtor Examination may reveal that the Defendant Dog Owner owns no property, no vehicles, has no money in the bank, and is currently on ODSP or Ontario Works (both of which cannot be garnished).

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In tort law, one of the first and most important things lawyers are taught is to sue a Defendant with deep pockets and an ability to pay out a Judgment.

The only remedy in a personal injury case is money.

There is no ticker tape parade for the victor of a lawsuit. The Court cannot order the Defendant apologize, or be your servant for as long as it takes a Plaintiff to recover from his/her injuries. All which a Judge or Jury can do is order that the Defendant pay you compensation for your injuries and damages.

If a Defendant does not have the ability to pay the Judgment, it doesn’t mean that they go to jail. It also doesn’t mean that they can’t drive a car, work, or otherwise have their freedoms taken away. If a Defendant doesn’t pay, and doesn’t have the assets to pay a Judgment; then the Plaintiff is out of luck. The Judgment is without any real monetary value. While it may be satisfying or vindicating for a Plaintiff to have “won” the case; if the Defendant doesn’t have the ability to pay the Judgment the Plaintiff won’t get any compensation.

This is why it’s so important for a Plaintiff to sue a Defendant who has the ability to payout on a potential Judgment. This is why insurance matters.

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My first case reported in the media was a dog bite claim. It involved a woman who has been diagnosed with PTSD. She had an emotional support dog to help her cope. One day on a walk outside of her the common area of her apartment complex; two unleashed pit bulls attacked and killed her emotional support dog, and attacked my client as well leaving both physical and emotional scars. The story was covered by a number of news outlets because pit bull bans were a hot topic; and it was a very ferocious attack leaving serious and long lasting injuries. The case eventually settled out of Court for a substantial sum. Whenever the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog covers the topic of dog bites, I’m reminded of this case which still has a place in my heart.

If you’ve walked around your block during the pandemic and seen an increase in the number of dogs; you’re not seeing things. There has been a spike in the purchase and adoptions of dogs during the pandemic. It makes sense. More people are at home with time to care for a dog. People have been cut off from friends and family and are looking for another form of love, support and connection. There’s no better time to get a dog then when on lock down I suppose.

But with dog ownership comes great responsibility. Take away the vet bills, cost of food, accessories, training etc. It’s estimated that many of these new puppy purchases and adoptions will lead to an increased number of dogs being surrendered and shelter numbers going up.

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Goldfinger Injury Lawyers is an Ontario personal injury law firm with a track record of success getting people compensation from damages sustained as a result of dog bites.

Dog bite claims can be tricky, particularly when it comes to finding insurance to compensate the accident victim.

A few tips which come up time and time again from dog bite claims:

1.Get all of the contact information you can for the dog owner, or the person who was walking/handling the dog at the time of the attack. This is very important because unlike a car accident, the police aren’t likely going to come to the scene of the dog attack and make a formal report. While it does happen in some cases, this represents the minority of claims. When a car accident happens, more often than not the police attend at the scene of the accident and get all of the pertinent information of the parties involved in the accident. The same cannot be said in dog bite claims. It’s a bit of the wild west after the dog bite takes place. Some dog owners flee the scene of the dog bite or are totally unaware that their dog just attacked somebody. They leave the scene without a care in the world. If that person gets away and you don’t have their contact information, then how will you, your lawyer or a local Animal Control Office investigate the claim? Photos certainly help. Names, phone numbers and addresses; even the license plate number of their vehicle if they drove can work better.

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One of Brian Goldfinger’s very first personal injury cases which drew media attention was a dog bite case out of Toronto.

This tragic case was covered  by the Globe & Mail. The headline of the newspaper read “Man charged in fatal pitbull attack on dog“.

The dog attack took place a decade ago, and to their credit, the Globe & Mail article was updated on April 26, 2018 (responsible journalism); likely to include the following paragraph reflecting changes in the law surrounding pit bull ownership in Ontario:

Pit bulls have been banned in Ontario since November, 2005. However, dogs that were in the province before the ban may be kept, provided the owner has them sterilized. They must be leashed and muzzled at all times when in public.

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