What responsibility do owners have when their dogs bite someone? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 12 February 2018

What responsibility do owners have when their dogs bite someone?

#AskJoshuaHimel

Almost 8 million dogs make their home in Canada, so it’s not surprising that the number of people bitten by dogs is on the rise. This is despite law in Ontario prohibiting people from owning breeds, such as pit bulls, that lawmakers accused of being prone to attacking people. A sharp decline in the pit bull population to the point of their being close to nonexistent in some cities, such as Toronto, has not been met by a drop in the number of dog bites. In fact, dog bite numbers in Toronto have gone up. It’s a good idea for dog owners and victims of dog bites to know the rules about liability and what to do in the event of an attack.

What is Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act?

dog owners liability actThe Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act generally holds the owners of a dog responsible in the event the animal bites someone and causes injuries. Owners must exercise reasonable care to prevent their dogs from attacking another person or animal.

The Ontario statute creates strict liability to replace the so-called “one-bite rule.” The one-bite rule made it difficult for a person injured when bitten by a dog to recover compensation by requiring proof that the dog’s owner was aware of the vicious propensities of the dog. Proof of a dog’s tendency to bite usually was proven by evidence of a history of biting people that would put its owner on notice of the possibility the dog might bite again.

The Dog Owners’ Liability Act dramatically changes things by eliminating the issue of negligence on the part of a dog’s owner. Instead, a person injured in an attack by a dog need only prove the attack or bite and the identity of the owner or owners for a victim to be entitled to compensation.

Instances in which compensation may be reduced

Walking up to a dog and provoking it into attacking is a foolish thing to do. Not only do you increase the chances you will be attacked and injured, but it also gives a court a reason to reduce or deny your claim for compensation. It is up to the judge hearing the case to decide whether the conduct of the victim of a dog bite teased or irritated the dog to the point of causing it to bite when it might not otherwise have bitten anyone.

What owners must know in the event of an attack

If your dog bites someone, you need to get your dog under control right away to avoid additional harm to the victim or to anyone else in the vicinity. Immediately call for medical assistance if the victim has been injured.

Get the name and contact information of the victim. It is also a good idea to get the names and contact information for bystanders who might have witnessed the incident.

What should victims injured in a dog attack do?

Victims injured in a dog attack should immediately seek medical treatment. Before leaving the scene of the attack, obtain the name and contact information of the dog’s owners and any bystanders who might have witnessed the attack.

You should report the incident to the police as soon as possible following the attack. If you require immediate medical care because of serious injuries, call 911 while still at the scene.

Take pictures of the injuries as soon after the attack as possible. If you can do so, take pictures of the dog and the location of the attack.

Ontario dog bite injury lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf the victims of dog attacks. Call their 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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