Animal attacks, especially from dogs, can be a difficult experience for victims. Pets are very commonplace in Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, which can have a significant psychological toll on someone who develops a phobia from their experience.
There are many factors that can cause a dog to attack, such as health condition, biology, training and treatment by the owners, environmental conditions and other factors that “teach” a dog to apply certain behaviors such as attacking.
Injuries from animal attacks can range from very minor, to serious and life threatening, including psychological trauma.
In Ontario, the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16 renders the “dog owner” strictly liable for all injuries and losses caused by the dog regardless of fault or negligence. The definition of ‘owner’ according to the courts refers to not just the traditional owner of the dog, but also anyone “in physical possession and control over a dog just before it bites or attacks another person or animal.” In other words, an owner could be someone walking the dog, or dog sitting while the actual owner is away.
The ‘owner’ would be responsible for the damages resulting from their dog attacking even if they were unable to predict the attack, prevent the attack from occurring, or if they were unaware of their dog’s propensity to bite.
Damages from an animal attack can include:
- Loss of income or loss of competitive advantage
- General damages or “pain and suffering”
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future out of pocket expenses
- Housekeeping, care-giving and attendant care costs
In some cases, the courts may award aggravated or punitive damages depending on the severity and audacity of the owner’s conduct at the time of, and after, the attack happened.
It is important to seek a lawyer’s advice to provide you with specific legal information with respect to liability and damages as it relates to an animal attack.