Dog Bites & Injury Lawyers
Victims of dog bites often suffer serious physical injuries and emotional trauma. If you have been injured in Ontario by a dog or some other animal, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. There are laws in place meant to help victims that have suffered from an animal bite, and enable you to get fair financial compensation. You may be eligible to pursue a claim for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and your future care needs. The lawyers at the Bernstein Law Group understand the difficult times that follow an animal bite and are here to help keep you fully informed of the process while advocating for your rights.
Children and Animal Bites
The vast majority of animal bites and attacks come from dogs. However, other animals such as horses or cats can also inflict serious injuries on humans. Children are very susceptible to bites and attacks because of their behavior around animals and their curiosity. No matter how well-intentioned children can be, their actions can get them hurt. Additionally, their small size can also mean that their injuries may be more serious, and they may have more trouble breaking free from the dangerous situation. The same is said about the emotional trauma as it relates to children, often causing them nightmares and extreme anxiety. Adults, however, are not invincible and suffer dog bites and attacks far too often as well.
Steps to Take After a Dog Attack
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog or some other domestic animal, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. Once you are safe, and if you are able to, gather any witnesses’ information you can, as well as the contact information, address, and identification of the dog and dog owner. It is also a good idea to take any photographs you can, especially of your injuries.
Thousands of dog bites happen every year in Ontario. While oftentimes the owner of the dog can be partially blamed for the attacks, such as a lack of training, or the dog being unleashed, our laws in Ontario are set up in such a way that dog owners are the party at fault in a dog bite attack. This is done through the Dog Owner’s Liability Act. This legislation was set up by the government to protect the rights of victims that suffer injuries as a result of a dog bite attack. It makes the owner responsible in law for damages that result from a bite or attack. It considers not only dogs, but other domestic animals as well. In law, this type of automatic liability is called strict liability. In practice, this means the owner doesn’t have to act negligently to be responsible for the incident and have to compensate the injured victim. Often times, home insurance will cover the litigation costs and take carriage of the case for the dog owner.
The Dog Owner’s Liability Act can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90d16
Possible Dog Bite Injuries
Dog and animal bites are different from most standard types of injuries because of the very nature of them. Whereas car accidents most often lead to brain injuries, fracture, whiplash, dog bites can lead to severe infections, lacerations scarring, nerve damage, rabies, sepsis, and serious emotional trauma. Like any type of harmful incident, injuries sustained from dog bites fall along a wide spectrum, some requiring a stitch or two, others requiring serious plastic surgery and months of rehabilitation. In the worst of cases, dog bites can be fatal.
Damages in a Dog Bite Claim
Victims of dog bites should keep a diary of their injuries, including taking time-stamped photographs of their scars. It is also important to keep detailed records of any of your out-of-pocket expenses. After seeking medical attention, your doctor or the ER will likely give you a follow-up appointment. It is very important to follow your doctor’s orders and attend for treatment when recommended to do so. These medical records will help substantiate your injuries, which lawyers refer to as proving damages. This not only applies to physical injuries, but to psychological harm as well. There is typically a significant degree of psychological harm associated with dog bite cases. While sometimes physical injuries get better, the emotional trauma and psychological injuries linger, and little things like going for a walk can instill fear in a dog bite victim. The good news is that there are lots of ways to get help and tools to cope with these types of trauma through psychological treatment.
At the Bernstein Law Group, we take psychological injuries just as serious as physical injuries, and work with our team members towards putting the supports in place necessary to bringing our clients back to their old selves as much as possible.
Establishing Dog Bite Liability
While on its face dog bite liability can be simple, that being owners are liable for their dog's actions, it is not quite as simple as that. If the dog owner can prove that the victim’s own actions and negligence contributed to the attack by provoking it or trespassing on the owner’s property, then the liability may be apportioned accordingly, and the value of the claim would be reduced by some amount.
While the laws in place help protect the safety of the public, it does not guarantee a successful claim. A lawyer that specializes in dog bites and attacks may be able to get you compensation for your injuries, and provide you with a solid idea of what to expect in the claims process. Typically, the homeowners insurance will be the party to hire a lawyer and defend these actions.
Strict Liability Dog Attack Laws in Ontario
Dog owner liability, as aforementioned, is referred to as strict liability in law. In other words, the owner of the dog or domesticated animal will most often be held liable for the attack. This means that the owner of the dog or animal will almost always be held liable for a bite or attack, regardless of whether or not the owner was negligent. Even if the owner tried to prevent the attack, they could still be held liable for the dog’s actions. There are exceptions, as there usually is with law, and you should consult a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a viable case.
Our law firm represents victims of dog bites and animal bites in Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, Stoney Creek, Oakville, Burlington, Brampton, and the surrounding area. Dog bites and animal attacks are one of the practice areas our office focuses on, and we are passionate about advocating for victims of these types of bites and attacks. If you have been a victim of a dog bite or some other animal attack, you may have a lawsuit and should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.
Compensation for Dog Bites
While liability in dog bite cases is considered strict liability, it is still important to be aware that although the dog owner will most likely be held liable for the attack, the actions of both the owner and the victim could still impact the case. If an owner takes actions to prevent the bite or attack, and the victim provokes the dog, this could lead to a serious reduction in damages. There are a number of factors that could be considered when it comes to compensation, and because of this, victims should seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer who can help fight for the best valuation.
Valuing a Dog Bite Lawsuit
While valuing any claim is not a science, and there is no specific formula to follow, there are still several factors to consider that may influence the value of a claim.
An important factor to first consider is the victim as a whole. How old are they? What do they do for work, or, what do they aspire to do? What value does the victim place on appearance? In this sense, it is important to gain a thorough understanding of how the dog bite or attack plays into a victim’s life. As you can imagine, a dog bite on a model’s face, may have a traumatic impact on that person’s life and livelihood. Whereas, a person who does not put much emphasis on looks in their life, it may not bother as much.
It will also depend on the extent of the injuries, where the bites occurred on the body, and what the scars look as time goes by. The size and general appearance of the scar will be an important factor. Sometimes a victim of a bite also sustains nerve damage in that region on the body, or sometimes, falls and fractures some bones. The severity of the injuries will be a significant determinant of the extent of compensation owed to the victim. It is therefore important to have your injuries well documented through clinical notes with your doctor and the hospital, as well as any other treating physicians. With lacerations and scarring, it helps to have a number of photos taken which help demonstrate the severity of the injuries, and which illustrate whether the scarring remains an issue over time. Generally speaking, photographs can be very compelling evidence compared to a generic medical note.
As you can see, dog bites and animal attacks can range in severity, and the demographic of the victim can also be very different from one victim to the next. A number of factors are important when valuing a case, and an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to keep you as informed as possible with the value of your claim as the case unfolds. Just like scars take time to heal, your case will take time to understand how well the scars heals. The dog’s owner will hopefully have an insurance policy to help cover your losses and medical expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I get bit by a dog?
Dogs are generally loving and compassionate animals, that bring families joy, all over the world. That is why it can be so traumatic to be bitten by a dog. It can also mean that the moments following a dog bite can be very stressful and worrisome.
Because the injuries of a dog bite can be serious and cause severe infection, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Dog bite injures can even be fatal, so if you or a loved one has been bitten, you should go to the hospital right away, or at the very least visit your family doctor that same day. With dog bites and animal bites, there is a possibility of infection or rabies, and timely intervention may help you recover faster. Additionally, by seeking medical treatment right away, it will help your case by properly documenting your injuries and recording the pain you are going through. Provided you are safe, ask the dog owner to identify the dog, as most dogs should have a license and be sure to get the contact information of the owner.
Your next step should be to contact a dog bite lawyer, which can help you document your injuries, and get you the full compensation from the insurance company responsible to cover the costs of your pain and suffering and other damages.
How do you know if a Dog Bite is Serious?
Unlike most other types of injuries, dog bites and animal bites, are commonplace for serious infections. If your injuries are swelling and extremely red there could be an infection. It is best practice to consult with a doctor or proceed directly to the hospital if you have been bitten by a dog or animal. With dog bites and animal attacks, it is better to be safe than sorry, and seek medical attention immediately, to help prevent the chances of infection. Dog bites and animal attacks can even cause serious disfigurement, and an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to get you the best compensation for your injuries.
How Long do Dog Bite Settlements Take?
Just like any claim, dog bite cases can take several years. Every case is different, and it depends on the circumstances. Some factors that influence the amount of time the claim takes could include whether liability becomes an issue, whether the victim has recovered, the seriousness of the injuries, the age of the victim, and the reasonableness of insurance company on the file. If you have been injured by a dog bite or animal attack, you should contact a personal injury lawyer and schedule a free consultation.
At your initial consultation to discuss your injury claim, you should bring any photographs, contact and insurance information, as well as medical notes that you have on hand in order to make the most of our time together. Our law office offers a free case evaluation for your dog bite, animal attack, or other personal injury claim. Our law firm cover a variety of personal injury cases, and dog bites and animal attacks are one of our passions.
Contact Bernstein Law Group
Book a Free Consultation
Contact Us Today
WE'RE HERE TO HELP
DOG BITE & INJURY LEGAL SERVICES
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU
No Obligations, We are here to help you!
Let our experienced and caring legal team help you with your legal needs. We specialize in criminal, real estate, and personal injury files.