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What You Should Know About Dog Bite Attacks In Ontario

We all love dogs. They make great companions – most of the time.

Despite their usual friendly nature, their behavior is not always predictable. In some instances, they can attack and cause injuries.

Key Takeaways

  • Dog owners will be found strictly liable if their dog bites or attacks someone;
  • Victims of dog bite attacks do not have to prove that the owner of the dog is at fault. Liability is usually automatically attached;
  • Victims of dog bite attacks will only be held liable (partially or otherwise) if they provoked the dog or contributed to the attack.

According to Michigan State University’s Animal Legal and Historical centre, there are approximately 500,000 dog bite incidents in Canada each year.

As we can see from this study, dog bite injury claims are not uncommon.

The Dog Owner’s Liability Act

According to the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, section 2(1), the owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by their dog on another person or domestic animal.

Section 2(3) of the Act states that the liability of the owner does not depend upon knowledge of the propensity of the dog or fault or negligence on the part of the owner. This means that the owner of a dog will be liable for injuries sustained in a dog bite or dog attack case regardless of whether the animal had a history of biting or even if the owner knew that the dog was capable of biting (or attacking). In simple terms, if someone is attacked by a dog, they do not need to prove any fault or negligence on the dog’s owner — they are eligible for compensation regardless.

However, a victim can sometimes bear some responsibility for a dog attack.

Section 2(3) of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act states that the court shall reduce the damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages. This means that if the victim provoked or teased the dog in some way, the court can reduce their damages by a percentage to reflect the victim’s fault in the case.

Dog bite claims are not unlike other personal injury claims, such as motor vehicle accidents and slip and falls. If someone has sustained pain and suffering, loss of income, or out-of-pocket expenses due to the dog bite injury, they may be entitled to compensation.

If you or a family member have sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite (or attack), call Bergeron Clifford LLP to discuss your rights.



Casey Dorey_Lawyer at Bergeron Clifford

Casey Dorey is an associate lawyer at Bergeron Clifford LLP. He works primarily in Kingston but travels across Eastern Ontario.

Casey obtained his LL.B from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, with First Class Honours. While in law school, Casey was a Moot Court champion and represented the school externally in London, England. He was also awarded the Canadian Spring Scholarship.

He has appeared before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Small Claims Court, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and the Social Security Tribunal.

View his profile

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