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Can I Claim for Damages if a Dog Has Attacked or Bitten Me?

Photo of a dog teeth
Photo by Marek Szturc

Yes! If you’ve suffered injuries caused by a dog—such as broken bones, scarring, disfigurement, or psychological trauma—you can claim for damage for your injuries and out-of-pocket expenses. You can sue for compensation for pain and suffering, income loss from being off work, past medical bills, including physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatments as well as future treatment costs.

Here is what you need to know about dog bite law in Ontario and what to do if you or a loved one has been injured by a dog.

Dog Owners Are Responsible for Damages Caused by a Dog Bite

The law in Ontario used to be known as the “one free bite” rule, which meant that the owner of a dog was not responsible for the dog’s first attack. Today, the “one free bite” rule is gone, having been replaced by the Dog Owners' Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16.

The Dog Owners’ Liability Act makes Ontario dog owners strictly liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by their dog on another person. In other words, Ontario law says a dog owner is responsible for any damage or injury caused by their dog. The dog bite victim does not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent. It doesn’t matter where the bite or attack occurred, whether it was on private property, a sidewalk, at the park, etc. Nor does it matter if the dog’s owner had any knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite or attack; strict liability applies even if the dog has no history of displaying violence or aggressive behaviour.

Our lawyers at Kelly Greenway Bruce in Oshawa know how fight for you if you suffered injuries as a result of a dog bite. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.

What To Do After a Dog Bite or Attack

Being bitten, attacked, or mauled by a dog can be an extremely traumatic experience. The steps you take after being injured will of course depend on the extent of your injuries—if you are seriously injured, don’t worry about any of these steps; just call 911 and get medical attention right away. That being said, here are the recommended steps to take:

  • Call 9-1-1 if urgent assistance is needed.

  • Get the dog owner’s name and contact information. If the owner refuses to provide their information, call the police.

  • Get information about whether the dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date.

  • Record video or take photographs of the scene, your immediate injuries, and the dog (only if safe to do so).

  • Talk to any witnesses and get their names and contact information.

  • Seek immediate medical attention. Dog bites that are not properly cleaned and treated can lead to serious infections. You may also need treatment for rabies exposure.

  • If you aren’t able to get information from the dog owner or witnesses, and aren’t able to take video or photos, write down any details you can remember about the incident as soon as possible.

  • Contact the local By-Law and animal control office to report the incident.

  • Contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bites and dog owner liability for advice on your rights and options, and to discuss how to protect and strengthen your personal injury claim.

  • In the following days, weeks, and months, continue to see your doctor and to seek medical treatment recommended by your doctor (e.g., medication, surgery, physiotherapy). This is important to maximize recovery from your injuries and to ensure that your injuries are well-documented.

  • Continue to document your injuries over time by keeping a pain journal of how the injuries are impacting you and taking photographs of visible injuries as they heal.

Get Legal Advice from An Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer in Oshawa

Our local Oshawa lawyers at Kelly Greenway Bruce are here to help if you or a loved one has suffered harm caused by someone else's dog.

Our team will evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and protect your legal rights. We will work tirelessly to get the compensation you deserve so you can focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to your normal life.

We have experienced dog bite lawyers in Oshawa and Lindsay who are ready to guide you through the personal injury claims process. Even if the injury appears to be minor, we welcome you to contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.


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