WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR DOG BITES SOMEONE ON YOUR PROPERTY?
Unfortunately, dogs often bite. When they bite, there can be serious injuries. Whether the victim is a guest, trespasser, or a salesperson, you may be held liable for damages in certain situations.
WHAT IS THE STANDARD OF CARE OWED?
When a person enters your property, regardless of whom, they have a reasonable expectation that they will not be injured. This is known as the standard of care owed to anyone on their property. Essentially, this means the owner or occupier of the property must maintain a relatively safe environment for all persons. These safety mechanisms are legislated in the Occupiers Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990 C. O.2, Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005, and the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. D. 16 and enshrined in our common law.
In most situations, owners of dogs owe a reasonable duty of care to anyone lawfully on their property. The liability of the dog owner does not depend upon the knowledge of the propensity of the dog to attack or fault or negligence on the part of the own per section 2 subsection (3) of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act. It also states that courts shall reduce damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages. In other words, injured victims may be found partially liable if they contributed and put themselves at risk. This is also known as contributory negligence. This takes place when the court believes that the injured victim should be held partially responsible for the dog bite or attack as a result of their behavior. This is rare and takes place where the dog is provoked in some way to behave in a violent fashion.
There is much debate around whether certain breeds of dogs are more reckless and dangerous than others; more likely to bite or attack. This has resulted in, for instance, with some exceptions, pit bulls being banned. Dog owners have legal responsibilities when it comes to their dogs, both in terms of providing them with the proper care, and also when property or people come into contact with their pets.
In the past, people had to rely on the common law and prove negligence on the part of the owner of the dog. Now, as indicated above, legislation has imposed strict liability on dog owners for any injuries that are caused by their pets. This means that the if a dog owner’s pet bites or attacks someone, than that owner is liability regardless of whether they are negligent or at fault.
WHAT DO I DO IF I AM INJURED BY A DOG?
In general, if you are injured by a dog, you generally do not have to prove negligence or intent, but it may increase your damages if there was intent to injure at the direction of the dog owner. If you are injured by a dog, you need to identify the dog owner and prove that their dog injured you and then the dog owner will have to pay your damages. This is generally covered by the dog owner’s home insurance—but not always. If you contact our office, we may be able to provide you with a range of a monetary settlement which would be reasonable. It would be prudent to take photos of your injuries and location of the incident.
First and foremost however, you should obtain immediate medical attention. Since diseases and infections can be popular among dog bites, it is critical to seek medical aid as soon as possible. Always consult a physician immediately as many animals carry parvovirus or rabies virus.
CONTACT OUR OFFICE FOR A REVIEW OF YOUR CASE
The law in on Ontario as it relates to dog bites is fairly clear—owners of dogs who injure another person will be held strictly liable to the victim for the damages and pay fair and reasonable compensation. We encourage all dog owners to take the proper courses and training to educate themselves and their dogs to create the safest environment for all. Unfortunately, dog bites can happen despite precautions, and in an unpredictable fashion. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, seek medical attention and contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Our law office would be pleased to give you a free no-obligation evaluation of your claim.
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