While no reliable statistics exist for dog bites per year in Canada due to a lack of reporting, the estimate is that over one million people in the country are bitten by dogs annually. Getting bitten or attacked by a dog can be frightening. The experience can leave you physically and emotionally scarred, wondering how it could have occurred, and whether you need to seek treatment for rabies.
Some dog bites may be minor but could leave you in emotional distress. If you have been bitten or are attacked by one or more dogs at one time, you could have sustained physical injuries as well and be entitled to compensation for damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
To pursue a lawsuit due for a dog bite or attack, you should definitely hire a personal injury attorney and below are ways they can help you.
1. Form your case
A strong case to receive compensation needs to be presented and could mean the different between you receiving the assistance you need and deserve or your lawsuit being dismissed. A personal injury attorney is experienced in dog bite and attack cases and knows what is required to obtain a favourable judgment.
The attorney can look at all of the details of your case such as where and when the incident took place, evidence given by witnesses and investigators, and any details regarding the dog and owner. It can then be decided if your lawsuit has sufficient evidence to proceed or whether more information is needed in order to be successful.
2. Prove liability
In some jurisdictions, it is necessary to prove that a dog has a propensity to bite or attack in order for someone to receive compensation. However, this is not required in Ontario. The Dog Owners’ Liability Act in this province states that the owner of the dog is liable for damages that are the result of a bite or an attack and negligence does not need to be proven. Therefore, you do not need to prove that the owner of the dog knew that their pet was dangerous and acted unreasonably.
All that you and your attorney need to show is that you were bitten by the dog identified in your lawsuit. Although this is relatively straight-forward, the damages that you are awarded could be reduced if the defendant argues that contributory negligence was a factor in the incident. This is the concept that you as the victim acted in a way that provoked the dog, making you partially responsible for your injuries.
A personal injury lawyer will be experienced, knowledgeable, and capable of arguing against contributory negligence and in proving it was in fact the dog identified that bit you in the event the owner is contesting this.
3. Deal with insurance companies
In most cases the home insurance policy of the dog owner will cover damages if their pet bites or attacks someone. However, this does not mean it is an easy process. Insurance companies are notorious for aggressive tactics, attempting to elude responsibilities to people seeking compensation they are entitled to, and offering to settle for monetary values that do not cover the needs of the victim.
A personal injury lawyer will advocate on your behalf and deal with insurance companies in a way that will protect your rights and interests. Attorneys are experienced in dealing with large insurance corporations and are not intimidated by any tactics they use to get a plaintiff to settle.
They know how to hold representatives of insurance companies accountable and in the event the insurance companies offer to settle, the attorney can review the offer and advise you on whether to accept, reject, or make a counter-offer with an amount better suited to what you need.