Dog Bite Liability in Canada | Complete Guide

Posted on July 16, 2021

More than 500 Canada Post Employees get bitten by dogs each year.

Has a dog bitten you, or has your dog bitten someone else, and you want to know what the law says about dog bite liability? 

Not only are we going to explore what to do when a dog bites you, but you'll also find information about whether or not you need to contact a lawyer following a dog bite.

What Is Dog Bite Liability in Canada?

In 1990, the Dog Owner's Liability Act was introduced to protect victims that have gotten bitten by a dog that's not theirs. The act will hold the dog owner responsible if their pet causes bodily harm to another individual.

If the dog has more than one owner, both owners will be held responsible. Canadian law seeks to hold the owner(s) of the dog responsible because several complications can arise after someone has been bitten.

Possible Dog Bite Complications

Sepsis is when an untreated animal bite leads to an infection that could be life-threatening. Commonly people that have sepsis will exhibit symptoms such as high blood pressure or extreme pain.

Rabies - Another complication that a person might have is rabies. If the dog that bit you has rabies, the chances of getting the virus are quite high. Signs of rabies in humans include itching around the site of the dog bite and increased weakness. 

Tetanus is a virus that enters your body through the site of the dog bite. Signs of this virus are challenges with swallowing as well as muscle spasms in your jaw.

Capnocytophaga - It is the last complication that we want to discuss. Complications that come with having capnocytophaga include heart attack, and if the area of the bite isn't treated, you could contract gangrene.

What Happens After A Dog Bite Gets Reported?

The first thing you need to do after getting bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention immediately. This is to ensure that the wound gets cleaned properly to prevent any of the infections we mentioned.

If you're able to, the next thing you need to do is is ensure that you've collected the information of the dog's owner and take pictures of the injury. Next, contact a lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases.

What If My Dog Bites Someone on My Property?

After you go to court for your dog biting someone, the question that you might have is if your dog will be put down? During the proceedings, the court will hear testimony to determine if the dog is guilty of what it's being accused of.

If the court does find these allegations against the dog are, in fact, true, there are a few things the could happen. The judge may rule that you, as the owner take special precautions to ensure that your dog doesn't bite anyone again, or they may rule that the dog be put down.

According to the Dog Bite Liability Act, if someone enters your property with the intent to commit a crime or other illegal things, you're not going to be held liable for your dog biting them. However, if your dog bites a salesperson, you will be held liable because the salesperson is simply doing their job.

What If My Dog Bites Someone on Public Property?

Provocation means that to stimulate or provoke, and in terms of a dog biting someone, if they've been provoked, you won't be held liable. You will need to prove that the person who got bitten did something to your dog that caused them to retaliate.

If your dog was on the leash at the time of the biting incident, you would not be held liable. The reason being is the person that got bitten still had to approach your dog and provoke them in a way that angered it.

Is It My Responsibility to Seek Medical Attention for the Injured Person?

If you're found liable for your dog biting someone, you will be required to compensate the victim at the end of the case. There are several things that the victim could ask for when it comes to compensation, including:

  • You pay all medical bills linked to the dog bite
  • Pay for dog vaccinations
  • Medical treatment

Although, healthcare is free in Canada, that doesn't mean that you'll be let off the hook in terms of compensation. Someone who's gotten bitten may have lingering pain and suffering after the bite's taken place.

To treat this psychological trauma, they may require help from a therapist that you might have to pay for.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dog Bites or Do I Need to Contact My Home Insurance Provider?

Yes. Most dog bites are covered by pet insurance policies in Canada.

There are more than 5.9 million dogs in Canada. Therefore it's not uncommon for dog owners to have pet insurance. You need to ensure that if you've got a dog, you select a package that will cover everything if your dog bites someone.

One of the things covered by your insurance is dog bites, but it's important to note that coverage for bites is limited and not covered by all insurance plans. Because owners are liable for their dog biting people in Canada, you should consult with dog bite lawyers to purchase a plan that has what you need.

There is a settlement that comes with someone getting bitten by a dog. The maximum payout that someone can stand to gain when your pet has bitten someone is $35,000.

Should I Contact A Lawyer If My Dog Bites Someone?

If your dog bites someone, you need to contact a lawyer because the victim can sue you. The most common type of lawyer that will represent a case in which your dog has bitten someone is a personal injury lawyer, which would make this a personal injury claim.

When looking for a lawyer, it should be someone who has experience dealing with dog bite cases. They should also have a positive history when getting their client the best outcome possible in their case.

What Are the Best Ways to Prevent Dog Attacks?

With a better understanding of the steps you need to take following a dog bite, it's now time to learn how to prevent dog attacks from occurring. There are several ways this can be achieved.

By taking the proper precautions to prevent a dog bite, you can ensure the safety of yourself and others that you may come in contact with.

Know the Signs

Before a dog attacks someone, they will begin to exhibit signs that they've become agitated and might be about to bite someone. Here are some signs that your dog is stressed and becoming agitated:

  • Starts to tense their body
  • Baring their teeth at people
  • Growling 
  • Their tail is wagging slowly, but stiffly
  • Licking their lips

When you begin to notice these signs, you need to move away from the dog. If it's your dog that's exhibiting these signs, you need to instruct others to move away from your dog and take steps to calm your pet down.

Be Respectful

Much like humans, when animals sense that someone is a threat to them, they will attack that person. If you're going to pet someone's dog, the first thing you need to do is ask the owner's permission.

Once they've stated that it's okay for you to pet their dog, you need to allow the dog to sniff the back of your hand first. Under no circumstance should you ever reach your hand over the dog's head to pet them.

This could provoke the dog to bite you.

Don't Run

After you've noticed that a dog might be about to bite or attack you, the best plan of action is to put distance between yourself and the dog without running. If you run, it puts the dog in the mindset to pursue its target.

Chasing down their prey is an instinct that comes naturally to most animals, including dogs. If you don't think you can get away without being attacked, be as still as possible.

Dog Bite Liability: Explained

Dog bite liability seeks to hold owners responsible if their dog bites someone, but if you are a victim of a dog bite, there are steps you can take to receive the compensation that you need. To prevent dog bites, don't run and always ask permission before you touch someone's dog.

If you're searching for pet insurance, get a quote from Insurdinary. Protect yourself and your pet before something happens.

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