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.
2. The damages to your dog are not the same as damages for pain and suffering. The law is very cruel when it comes to damages to your dog. At law, your dog is only seen as property. It’s not afforded the same rights as a person. If your dog suffered, the dog cannot be awarded damages for pain and suffering. If you have suffered on account of your dog suffering, you may be entitled to damages provided these damages are detailed in your doctor’s medical records. Our lawyers generally see these cases where the dog which was injured (or killed) was a therapy dog, service dog or a healer dog. In those cases, the damages jump off the page given that the owner must either find a new therapy dog, or their dog now can’t do their job. Where damages to the dog are comprehensible is when it comes down to the veterinarian bills associated with the dog attack. Hold on to these vet bills so that your personal injury lawyer can quantify and substantiate your damages to get you compensated. If you lost those vet bills, you may be out of luck because the law requires that you prove that you are out of pocket what you say you are.
3. Take photos of the dog bites. This is important in order to prove what your injuries are, and to show a Court how badly you were bit. Some of the most gruesome injuries which our personal injury lawyer have seen have been bites to the face from a dog attack on minors. These can be devastating and have a life long impact on the victim. Sometimes, these wounds never fully heal. Many clients require not only physical support, but also psychological therapy to help them cope. In most cases, the costs for treatment and therapy is NOT covered by OHIP. This is a another situation where it’s very important for the claimant to hold on to their receipts so that your personal injury lawyer can quantify and claim your incurred out of pocket treatment expenses. It’s not enough for a claimant to simply state that they spent money on treatment and now they want to get their money back. They need to show the receipts so that a Court understands exactly when the treatment was, how many sessions there were, and how much money was spent. In some situations the claimant may have access to collateral benefits through a private insurer (Manulife, Blue Cross, Sun Life, Great West Life etc.). Under these plans, it’s not uncommon to see limits on claims of $500 or $750 per year for such treatment. When this happens, the Defendant dog owner is entitled to a credit for the amounts which the insurer paid out for treatment so that the Plaintiff is not unjustly enriched. But, this would not prevent an insurer from having a subrogated claim against the Defendant (albeit a very small one in many cases).
4. Get the help you need from the hospital, walk in clinic or family doctor. Too many people sustain serious injuries and don’t get the help they need because they refuse to seek out medical attention. This is not only not good for your health and rehabilitation; but it’s also not good for building a personal injury case. How is your personal injury lawyer suppose to show a Court your injuries/damages when you have not sought out any medical attention to document what those injuries are? No doubt the Plaintiff will get on the stand in Court and give self serving evidence professing their injuries. But that evidence is not good enough. You will need evidence from independent third parties who will corroborate your injuries. You will need evidence from doctors who will support your injury claim as well. Simply getting up on the stand and alleging that you are injured without the medical evidence to back up what those injuries are may cut it on a television legal drama. But it doesn’t work for a real life legal case.
5. Make sure that the Defendant dog owner has insurance. If the Defendant dog owner is without insurance, your case may be going nowhere fast. If the Defendant dog owner has not insurance, and also doesn’t have any tangible assets (money in the bank, property, etc.) then you may be chasing a Defendant who does not have the means to pay out a judgment or a settlement. Our personal injury lawyers often see this in dog bite cases. Sometimes there are ways around it to find insurance. Other times, there simply aren’t. It all comes down to the facts of the specific case along with the circumstances of the parties involved.
(past results are not indicative of future results)