Animal (Dog) Bite
The vast majority of animal bites are by dogs, however cats, horses, and even exotic animals at zoos are occasionally involved. While many dog bites are likely to heal quickly, in serious cases, the injuries can be so severe that they lead to permanent disfigurement and require surgery. Unfortunately, children are the most common victims of dog attacks because of their natural curiousity, and often, and under appreciation of the threat a dog can pose. Because of their small size, children are also more likely to suffer more extensive and serious injuries in an attack than those typically sustained by an adult. Aside from the physical injuries sustained in an attack, dog bites can also lead to emotional trauma, especially for young children who may develop phobias of dogs and other animals that carry through into adulthood. Because of Ontario’s strict liability laws surrounding dog owners, any victim of a dog bite should contact a personal injury lawyer from Diamond & Diamond to see what form of compensation may be available.
If you've been bitten by a dog or animal and are seeking damages, our personal injury lawyers can help. We have offices in the following locations and service clients across Ontario:
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Thunder Bay
Important Things to Keep in Mind in the Event of an Animal Bite
Dog owner liability in Ontario is often referred to as “strict liability”, meaning the owner of the animal will almost always be held liable for an attack, regardless of whether the animal has a history of biting or if the owner is a good or negligent dog owner. For those who suffer a dog bite, this liability means that even if there was little warning of an attack, and even if the owner tried to prevent the attack, that owner will still be held liable for the dog’s actions. If the owner is not present at the scene of the attack, such as when the dog is being cared for by a neighbour, then the owner’s liability still stands. The only exception to this rule is if a person is bitten by a dog on a person’s property while committing a criminal act.
What victims of dog attacks need to be aware of, however, is that although the dog owner will likely be held liable for the attack, the actions of both the owner and the victim could have an impact on the amount of compensation that is due to the victim. Judges are free to use their discretion when awarding compensation to a dog bite victim, and if the judge determines that the victim provoked the dog, then the compensation is likely to be reduced. Likewise, if the owner took actions to prevent the attack, such as trying to keep the dog away from the victim, then those actions could lower the amount of compensation the dog owner is liable to pay. Other actions, such as the dog breed or whether the animal was on a leash or muzzled, could also affect compensation amounts. Because determining compensation for a dog bite attack can get complicated, victims should seek out the services of a personal injury lawyer who can help the client fight for the maximum amount available under the law. While dog bites are common, every case is unique and it is only with an experienced legal representative that victims can expect their case to be handled diligently and fairly.