Bitten By A Dog? Ontario Dog Owner Liability Explained

It is estimated that 500,000 dog bites occur every year in Canada. What’s worse, however, is that 75% of those victims are children under 10-years-old.1

During the pandemic, many families were spending way more time at home and decided it was the right time to introduce a new fluffy friend to their household. Almost 3 in 10 Canadians adopted a pet during the pandemic.

However, with many people returning back to the office for work and life mostly going back to normal, these new pets are in for a big change at home. Many of these dogs are now being left at home alone for hours during the day or left in the care of dog walkers, dog sitters, and doggy daycares. This is exposing these dogs to more strangers than they’re used to and could result in a rise in dog bite incidents in Canada.

What Is Dog Owner Liability?

In Ontario, there is something called the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. This Act covers civil liability, proceedings, precautions by dog owners, pit bull bans and controls, search and seizures, offences, regulations, and more.

In layman’s terms, this Act refers to your responsibilities and culpability as a dog owner. You are liable for any damage or injury done to a person or property by your dog. This includes if your dog were to attack another dog or domestic animal.

In the case of two owners, for instance, if you share custody of your dog with an ex-spouse or partner, then you both share liability.

It’s important to understand that even in the event of your dog biting or attacking because it was provoked, you will still be held negligent and forced to pay a reduced fine.

Additionally, the Act outlines extra restrictions or regulations for certain breeds of dogs considered to be more aggressive. In Ontario, this includes the heavily protested pit bull ban that makes owning a pit bull illegal. If you owned a pit bull before the ban started, you were allowed to keep your pit bull but had to neuter it and keep it muzzled when off your property.

It is important to note that the Dog Owners’ Liability Act does not cover bites or attacks that happened on the owner’s property if the injured person was trespassing or committing a crime.

What Should I Do If Bitten By A Dog?

If you have been injured by a dog in any way, including being bitten, mauled, or attacked, you should immediately seek medical attention. Dog bites can very quickly become infected, and it’s important that you are treated for possible rabies exposure.

It is very important that you get the contact information of the dog owner. They need to be notified that their dog injured you, and you will need their details to alert the authorities or pursue a claim against them.

Having evidence of your injuries and medical visits is also very important. As soon as you’re able, it’s important to write down all the events preceding the attack, the attack itself, and what happened after the attack. You also want to take photos of the injuries you sustained when they are fresh. If you are able, take photos of the dog and owner, but do not further risk your health or safety to do so.

Once you can see a doctor, it’s also important to contact a personal injury lawyer specializing in dog bites and dog owner liability to discuss your case while the details are still fresh.

After A Dog Bite:

  1. Immediately seek medical attention and make sure the doctor documents all injuries and treatments required. It is important to note that Animal Services recommends you seek medical treatment for all animal bites, even minor ones.
  2. Report the dog attack to your local authorities. In Ontario, you should call 311 to report dog or coyote bites.
  3. Document as much of the attack as you can in a safe manner. This includes speaking to witnesses and getting their contact information, taking photos of your injuries, taking photos of the dog and owner, and getting the owner’s contact information.
  4. File a claim with your insurance provider.
  5. Keep a detailed journal outlining how these injuries have affected your life financially, physically, and emotionally.

How Dog Bite Claims Are Handled In Court

When pursuing a dog bite claim or dog attack claim, there are certain factors that the court takes into consideration when determining eligibility for a settlement.

Some of the factors considered are:

  • How serious the injury is
  • Whether the injuries sustained are permanent
  • How likely it is you will require future surgeries
  • Any economic losses you’ve suffered or may suffer because of the bite/attack. This includes lost wages from time off work.
  • If you did anything to provoke the dog, cause the attack, or contribute to the attack. This will not release the dog owner from liability, but it could result in reduced damages.

In most cases, you do not have to prove intent or negligence if you were injured by a dog. However, if the dog owner caused the dog to attack you and you can prove intent, it may increase damages.

Additionally, the Dog Owners’ Liability Act doesn’t just pertain to injuries sustained from a dog bite or attack. If you were injured running away or trying to escape from a dog chasing you, you may be entitled to compensation.

What Happens To The Dog?

This will depend entirely on the severity of the attack, your injuries, and whether this was a first-time offence. In many cases, the owner will have to pay a fine or keep the dog contained to their property.

However, in more serious cases, the consequences are much more severe. If the dog has a history of aggression or if the attack was serious, the dog may be euthanized. If the dog owner has a history of owning aggressive dogs that bite/attack, the owner may be prohibited from owning dogs for a determined period.

De Rose Helps People Suffering From Dog Bite Injuries Get The Care And Compensation They Deserve

If you were injured by a dog attack or bite, it is important to get in contact with a personal injury lawyer. This lawyer should specialize in dog bites and the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. Dog bites can cause serious injury and result in expensive medical bills and extended periods of time off work.

It’s important to consider how these injuries may affect your life. For instance, if you were injured by a dog that is not up to date on its rabies vaccines, you will need to get treated for potential rabies exposure right away. Additionally, dog bites can commonly get infected, resulting in the need for antibiotics. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may acquire long-term medical expenses, caregiver expenses, and loss of income. You may also require costly medications, rehabilitation, and reconstructive surgery.

Victims of dog bite attacks may also suffer emotional damage due to the severity of their physical injuries. They may also experience a future fear of dogs. Our dog bite injury team at De Rose Lawyers will help you navigate the aftermath of a dog bite incident. We will help you get the compassionate support and full compensation that you deserve. We will take care of you, so you can get back to living your life.