What to do After You or a Loved One Gets Bitten by a Dog
Experiencing a dog bite can be a painful and scary situation. Depending on the circumstances, a victim can be left with pain, disfigurement, emotional stress, and in rare worst-case scenarios, a dog attack can be fatal. Dog bite settlements can be affected by all these elements and more, this is why it’s a good idea to be properly informed on the dog bite laws in Ontario.
Along with physical and emotional pain, a dog bite can bring about confusion as to what appropriate steps should be taken after the attack. Whether you have been bitten or your loved one, taking the necessary actions will ensure your dog bite settlement goes as planned.
Why Do Dogs Bite in the First Place?
To protect you and your loved ones, it would be wise to determine some of the factors that may trigger a dog to bite in the first place. Dogs can bite for a variety of reasons, from accidental playful bites to ferocious attacks. Because there are many reasons why a dog decides to bite, it’s important to realize that no matter how friendly a dog may appear, you should not just assume that it will not bite.
Specific reasons why a dog may bite:
- The dog feels their territory or domain is threatened
- When a dog is startled or scared
- Not feeling well or injured
- The dog feels the need to protect their toy, food, or puppies
- A dog may playfully bite and still cause damage
Dog Bite Laws in Ontario – What You Need to Know
With the estimated number of dogs in Canadian homes as high as 7.6 million, a dog bite law in Ontario was established to protect the victims. This was not only necessary due to this high number of dogs, but also because of the extreme consequences a victim may encounter from a dog bite.
When an individual is bitten by a dog, they may not know the law and confusion can set in as to who is actually liable. The bottom line is that the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA), favors the victim. This is so, in most cases, even if the dog was somehow provoked by the victim.
DOLA was put in place to ensure that dog owners are taking the proper actions to get their dog under control no matter what the situation may be, and to protect the rights of the victims. It names the dog owner liable for any damages and losses that may have been caused by their dog.
Will I be Entitled to a Dog Bite Settlement?
Whether you were bitten in Whitby, Oshawa, Toronto, Vaughan, or other areas of Ontario, you will most likely be entitled to a settlement due to the strict dog bite laws in Ontario. DOLA states that you will not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent to be entitled to a fair settlement.
You may also be entitled to compensation if you were attacked by a dog but not bitten. Dog attacks, even when no biting is involved, can also result in significant physical and emotional damages. You should be entitled to recover your losses for medical bills, lost wages, and any other damages caused by the dog attack.
Will I Need to Go to Court to Receive my Settlement?
Each dog bite claim has a different set of circumstances that can determine if you will need to take your claim to court. In many cases, going to court can be avoided because settlements may be received through the responsible party’s home owner’s insurance.
Although insurance policies differ from company to company, dog bites outside of the home, at a local park, for example, may be covered as well. An insurance company may apply restrictions that make it so bites from certain breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and other aggressive breeds, are not covered.
Even though it may not be necessary to go to court if the claim is settled through an insurance company, it would be in the victim’s best interest to hire an attorney. A well-informed lawyer is capable of presenting your case to the insurance company in a manner that can produce the best outcome in regard to a dog bite settlement amount.
Situations where you may need to take your claim to court:
- Pet owner does not have insurance and refuses to pay
- Owner claims you provoked the dog and therefore feels the settlement should be reduced
- You are not satisfied with the insurance company’s settlement offer
What Determines the Settlement Amount?
Dog bite settlement amounts can vary drastically based on the extent of the damages produced by the attack. The payouts are typically no less than $10,000 and they can average around $30,000. For those who suffer extreme injuries, the settlement amount can skyrocket to the hundreds of thousands, even reaching the million-dollar mark in some select cases.
What is accessed in determining the amount?
- Severity of the injuries
- If the injuries prevent the victim from functioning normally
- Medical bill expenses incurred
- Did the victim suffer economic losses such as time off from work
- Amount of insurance coverage available
- If the victim was the one who provoked the dog
What Steps Should be Taken After a Dog Bite?
It’s essential to take certain steps to ensure that your dog bite claim produces the appropriate payout that is reflective of the injuries.
- Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety are a priority and seeking medical attention from the very beginning is a must. Even when a dog bite wound appears to be fine, it may lead to a serious infection. Furthermore, a doctor’s visit is crucial to your claim as it will provide the necessary documentation of the injuries.
- Identify the Dog Owner: Obtain the dog owner’s name and address as soon as possible after the attack. This information is needed to move forward with your dog bite case.
- Record all Details: Immediately after, create a write-up of the details that you can recall. This would include what you were doing right before the dog attacked and how it played out, how long the attack continued for, the level of pain that was experienced, along with information on any witnesses that may have seen the attack happen.
- Take Pictures: Start a photo documentation of anything that may help your claim. This may be your physical injuries, torn or bloody clothing, and so on.
- File a Report: It’s necessary to legally document your dog bite by filing a report. You may file a report with the local police department or your local animal control department.
- Contact an Attorney: Even if you are not taking your case to court, it’s recommended to obtain an attorney before speaking with the insurance company, if any. An attorney can speak on your behalf, armed with extensive knowledge of dog bite laws and settlement procedures.
No matter what area of Ontario your dog bite occurred in, the law has given dog bite victims the needed backup to successfully receive the compensation they deserve. This law places dog owner liability at the forefront of dog attack cases which can help ease the mind of the victim. We hope this article on what steps to take when seeking a dog bite settlement has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had, as well as guided you in the appropriate direction.
Contact Conte & Associates if You or a Loved One Have Been Bitten by a Dog
Dog attacks can be painful as well as confusing. Conte Jaswal is here to ensure your dog bite settlement case yields the maximum compensation that reflects your injuries and loss. You should not have to go through this situation alone, and we are here to help.
Contact us today for a free consultation!