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How to sue for a Dog Bite in Ontario?

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.

Goldfinger Injury Lawyers has been retained on a number of horrific, and gruesome dog bite/dog attack cases. The pictures of the injuries to some our our clients are disturbing and would be rated “R“. It’s hard to understand how a pet could carry out such a horrific attacks, but it happens.

Not all dogs are violent. Not all dogs attack. Some good dogs can behave badly. Some dogs aren’t properly socialized to deal with other people. Either way, when a dog bites or attacks, it can produce everlasting physical and emotional consequences.

Here’s what you need to know when seeking to pursue a dog bite or dog attack claim in Ontario:

Seek medical attention for your injuries. Your health is of the upmost importance.

Once that’s out of the way, treat the dog bite as you would getting in to a car accident by exchanging information with the dog owner or the person who was handling the dog at the time of the dog bite. Get the name of the dog, breed, colour, along with the name of the person with the dog, their telephone number, address and email address. Here’s a quick tip, give the telephone number they gave you a try right away to make sure that the dog owner isn’t giving you a bogus number to dodge their potential liability. Getting the contact information of the dog owner or dog handler is important for you and your personal injury lawyer. If you don’t get it, then how will you ever be able to find them down the road should you wish to pursue a claim against them?Goldfinger-logo-icon-300x300

Report the dog bite to the police or to animal control right away. Don’t sit on this step.  If you delay in reporting the incident, how will you find the dog or owner? It’s not like dogs have license plates like cars do which are easily traced. Should the police or animal control issue charges under the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, it will help strengthen the Plaintiff’s case. It’s also important to co-operate with the police or animal control as the case progresses. If you are the star witness of the case, how will the Crown be able to do their job in securing a conviction without your full co-operation with their investigation and with the legal proceedings?

Take note of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act in Ontario, which states the following when it comes to liability of a dog owner for the actions of their dog:

Liability of owner

(1) The owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal.  R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16, s. 2 (1).

Where more than one owner

(2) Where there is more than one owner of a dog, they are jointly and severally liable under this section.  R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16, s. 2 (2).

Extent of liability

(3) The liability of the owner does not depend upon knowledge of the propensity of the dog or fault or negligence on the part of the owner, but the court shall reduce the damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages.  R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16, s. 2 (3).

Contribution by person at fault

(4) An owner who is liable to pay damages under this section is entitled to recover contribution and indemnity from any other person in proportion to the degree to which the other person’s fault or negligence caused or contributed to the damages.  R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16, s. 2 (4).

Application of Occupiers’ Liability Act

(1) Where damage is caused by being bitten or attacked by a dog on the premises of the owner, the liability of the owner is determined under this Act and not under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.  R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16, s. 3 (1).

Take picture of the injuries sustained in the attack. Take pictures as their injuries heal as well. Take pictures of the scars, if any. Those pictures will be helpful to your personal injury lawyer, to the insurer and the Judge in establishing and quantifying damages in relation to your dog bite/dog attack case.

Home owners insurance and rental insurance protects dog owners. When suing a dog owner for a dog bite, it’s the home owners’ insurer or rental insurer which responds to, defends, and eventually pays out of the claim. If there is home owner’s insurance or rental insurance in place, then the home owner or renter him or herself  does not have to pay out of pocket one cent for the defence of the claim, or the pay out of the claim itself. If there is no insurance in place, then it’s a different story. Generally, when there is no insurance coverage in place, recovery can be very difficult. Take the example of a homeless person’s dog who bit you on the street. Generating a financial recovery in such a case will prove to be very difficult if that homeless person does not have any tangible financial assets.

Enough dog bite talk? Sure. Recently the Toronto Raptors traded away franchise star DeMar Derozan. We will all miss DeMar. He came to Toronto as an athletic 2 guard who lacked a consistent jumpshot, a tight handle, and wasn’t a very good passer. But he had upside. And we were all blessed to see that upside materialize through his hard work, focus and determination. DeMar is leaving Toronto with an impressive resume. A multi time All-Star selection, gold medalist, and 2 time All NBA Team selection. DeMar has been a pillar of the Toronto community and a beacon of basketball for Raptor fans across Canada. His dedication to Toronto will be missed.

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