Though dogs are generally friendly, they can bite based on the situation, such as when they are scared or have been startled. These incidents can incur severe physical injuries and mental trauma which may necessitate extensive medical attention. Some injuries take time to heal, requiring you to miss work. For these reasons, dog bites are a public safety concern and you have the right to seek compensation from the pet owner, as mentioned in the Dog Owner’s Liability Act (DOLA). But before we outline the different types of compensation you are eligible for and how to claim it, let’s walk through the act that made it possible.
What Is the Dog Owner’s Liability Act?
In 2005, Ontario passed a law to remove pit bulls and dogs similar to pit bulls from the province. This strict law was passed as many dog attacks were being reported. Under this law, four breeds (pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and American pit bull terriers) had to be leashed in public and sterilized within two months of the bill passing. The law succeeded in reducing dog bite casualties from 112 to 19 in 2014 in Toronto alone.
The Dog Owner’s Liability Act states that a dog owner is liable for all damages caused by a bite or attack by their dog on another animal or person. In cases where there is more than one owner, they will be jointly held liable under the Act.
Types of Compensation
Most dog bites are covered by the owner’s insurance which is why the victim must file a claim with the insured’s company. These companies can be challenging to work with so hiring a dog bite lawyer is always wise. They are experts in the field and will gather evidence to win any resulting lawsuit. Here is a list of compensations that they are most likely to fight for:
Present and Future Medical Expenses
The severity of the injury and intensity of medical care required are the main factors that determine the amount of compensation you receive after a dog bite. This compensation can help lighten the victim’s financial burden as medical expenses are costly. This includes payments for:
- Doctor’s Fee
- Emergency Room Visit
- Medical tests like MRIs and X-rays
- Medical Equipment
Serious injuries may restrict you from working the way you previously did. That means missing work which means losing pay. This makes you eligible for compensation. In this case, your attorney will help you get the money you have missed out on so far as well as future wages to which you are entitled.
Dog bites are traumatic and can cause discomfort and pain for long periods. But you can be compensated for enduring that physical pain and mental anguish. Proving this, though, can be tricky which is why you should keep a detailed record of the pain you felt after the incident.
Apart from pain, you may also feel emotional distress after a dog bite. Though the incident may have only lasted a few seconds, it can traumatize you and leave you disturbed. Nightmares and flashbacks may sabotage your sleep. You may also develop a fear of animals. In this instance you are likely to receive compensation, but keep your medical documents handy.
If your injuries cause irreversible damage, you may be eligible for additional compensation. This is because your disability may prevent you from performing daily activities, necessitating extra help which incurs extra costs.
Important Things to Know About Proving Your Claim
When a dog has bitten you, follow these steps to protect your health and right to compensation:
- Seek immediate medical attention to prevent the spread of infection
- Report the event to your local animal services department
- Get the dog owner’s (or sitter’s) contact information
- Collect evidence of the attack, including photos of the injury and contact information for the dog owner and other witnesses
Once you have received medical care, get in touch with a personal injury or dog bite lawyer with experience handling dog claims.
The first thing you need to prove is the liability of the dog owner. According to DOLA, a dog owner is completely liable for your injuries and you are entitled to compensation for your pain and emotional distress. As the victim, you need to prove two things to demonstrate liability: which dog bit you and that the person you are suing is the dog owner.
In addition, you can also claim compensation from the property owner. This is possible if you prove that the property owner has control over the property or the dog.
Prove Your Damages
Once you have proved liability, the next step is to claim compensation. The latter will be either negotiated by your attorney in a settlement or determined by the court if the case goes to trial. The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the severity of the bite and your suffering. However, if you contributed to the attack – for instance, if you provoked the dog – then you may be held partially liable for the incident and your compensation will be impacted in turn.
Dog bites are painful, but the good news is that you can be compensated for your injuries. To prove the liability of the dog owner, you must document all the evidence and present it at trial or during a settlement under the guidance of a lawyer. Once you have all the important documents in place, getting full compensation for your injuries and discomfort becomes that much easier.