Know the Dog Owners’ Liability Act Before a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite

By Sokoloff Lawyers
Know the Dog Owners’ Liability Act Before a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite

Though our society’s primary conception of the dog is as the paragon of loyalty, “man’s best friend”, and even a lovable doofus (q.v. Disney’s Goofy), there’s a rich history of dogs depicted in a more vicious manner. From Shakespeare’s “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war,” to Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound guard of the Greek Mythological Underworld that gave at least one 9-year-old nightmares, to Anubis of Ancient Egyptian death culture, dogs haven’t always been a welcomed image in the common consciousness. In Ontario, though, our dog bite legislation has teeth—enough to keep you protected should a dog bite occur and you need to file a lawsuit for dog bite.


Understanding the Dog Owners’ Liability Act


The Dog Owners’ Liability Act (or DOLA) is provincial legislation designed to assign liability to dog owners and protect the victims of dog bite attacks. Though the terms of DOLA are actually quite extensive and protective, many dog owners, and certainly a majority of non-owners who have been bitten, do not know the details, limiting the terms’ effectiveness. Fortunately, filing a lawsuit for a dog bite is old hat for Toronto personal injury lawyers, and they can help you to understand the details.


Establishing Liability


On the whole, a dog owner is legally responsible—i.e. liable—in virtually any situation in which his or her dog bites someone. In fact, a victim may even file a lawsuit for a dog bite if “the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.” That is, an actual bite is not even a necessary condition for a lawsuit if the dog exhibits menacing behaviour.


Plaintiff Liability


However, the damages owed by the dog owner in a lawsuit for a dog bite may be reduced “in proportion to the degree to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused the damages.” DOLA does not grant you licence to provoke dogs willy-nilly and trust that you will win damages in a lawsuit for a dog bite. Always exercise proper caution around dogs to keep yourself and the animal safe.


The Pit Bull Ban


You may have heard that in Ontario there is a pit bull ban; this is true, and DOLA is the document that contains it. Under DOLA, no Ontarian resident may own, breed, transfer, or import a pit bull. It is also illegal to abandon a pit bull except to a pound operated by a designated authority. The cost of violating the pit bull ban is severe: a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to six months in prison. Clearly, Ontario takes the risk of pit bull attacks seriously, since, before the ban, pit bulls by far represented the highest percentage of dog bite attacks in Ontario.


A Toronto personal injury lawyer can help you recover the damages that you deserve after a dog bite injury. If you’ve been bitten, go online to book your free consultation about lawsuits for dog bites as soon as possible, and turn Anubis back into Goofy.