Dog Bites

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Who Is Liable When a Dog Attacks Someone in Ontario?

In Ontario, the liability for a dog attack is primarily governed by the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. According to this legislation, the owner of a dog is generally held strictly liable for any damages resulting from a bite or attack by their dog on another person or domestic animal. Strict liability means that the owner is responsible for the actions of their dog, regardless of whether they were aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies or previous incidents.

Key points regarding liability for a dog attack in Ontario:

Strict Liability: The owner of the dog is strictly liable for injuries or damages caused by their dog biting or attacking a person or domestic animal.
Liability in Public or Private Places: The liability extends to both public places and private property. Whether the incident occurs in a public park, on the street, or on the owner’s property, the owner remains responsible.
Contributory Negligence: Ontario follows a modified form of contributory negligence in dog bite cases. If the person who suffered the injury was found to be at fault to some extent (e.g., provoking the dog), their damages may be reduced accordingly.
Defenses for Trespassers: If a dog attacks a person who is unlawfully on the owner’s property (trespassing), the owner may have certain defenses. However, the strict liability still applies in many cases.
Muzzling Orders: In certain situations, a court may issue a muzzle order requiring a dog to be muzzled in public to prevent future attacks.
Dangerous Dog Declarations: If a dog has a history of aggressive behavior, a court may declare it a “dangerous dog” and impose additional restrictions on the owner, such as mandatory muzzling or confinement.

It’s important to note that liability is generally attached to the owner of the dog, rather than a landlord or property owner, unless the landlord or property owner is also the owner of the dog or has control over the dog’s presence on the property.

If someone is bitten or attacked by a dog in Ontario, they may pursue a civil claim against the dog owner for damages related to medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses. Seeking legal advice from paralegals like George Brown Professional Corporation is advisable to understand the specific circumstances of the case and navigate the legal process effectively.

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