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Biting dogs cause liability for owners in Ontario

Dog owners have the responsibility to make sure that their pets don't inflict injuries on others. Provincial law provides strict liability for dog owners in cases where their animals attack and injure others.

In Ontario, the Dog Owners Liability Act allows those who have been bitten by a dog to sue its owner for damages. Under the statute, the owner does not have to be negligent or even at fault. He or she does not have to have prior knowledge that the dog is likely to attack someone in order to be liable for the injuries inflicted.

Consider the unusual case in 2012 of a teacup chihuahua, weighing in at three pounds, now designated as a "dangerous dog" after biting an Ontario mail carrier. The official designation also carries other penalties — Molly the Chihuahua's owners must now carry a million dollars' worth of liability insurance, post signs warning the public of their "dangerous dog on premises" and muzzle and leash the teacup pup on every excursion out of their house.

While the above case appears to be a bit of an overreaction, dog bites can and often do result in serious, disfiguring injuries to adults and children. The owner(s) of the dog bear both a legal and financial responsibility for damage to any property as well as injuries caused by their pet. Dependent upon the parameters of the person's homeowner or renter insurance policies, the incident may be covered. However, making a claim against a policy for a dog bite is likely to cause the policy to be canceled or the premium costs to rise precipitously.

If you have been bitten by someone else's dog, you may seek financial compensation for your injuries and medical bills by filing a claim for damages.

Source: findlaw.com, "Dog Bites and Animal Attack Overview," accessed June 04, 2015

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