Dog bite case sets new Ontario precedent

As many as 500,000 people are bitten by dogs every year in Canada, far and away the most common form of animal attack. Generally, dogs’ owners are considered liable for damages sustained by the victims of the attacks, even in cases where the victim provoked the animal. Now, a recent appeals court decision has expanded the definition of the word “owner,” and the ruling could have an interesting impact on the way people care for their pets. If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog attack or an attack by another pet, contact a Will Davidson LLP Oakville dog bite lawyer to find out how we can help.

The case in question, Wilk v. Arbour, was a dispute between an Ontario woman and a man she was in relationship with who owned a nine-year-old dog. While the woman took the dog for a walk, the dog suffered a seizure, slipped on some ice, and fell into a ditch. She attempted to enter the ditch to retrieve the dog, but slipped and fell. She collided with the dog, which bit her. She lost part of her right thumb as a result.

The dog-walker sued the dog’s owner, who she claimed was responsible for the bite as he had not fed the dog or given the dog its medication that day. Ontario’s lower court agreed with the walker, finding that she was entitled to compensation for her injuries. The owner appealed, and asked for the case to be thrown out.

“The whole case,” FindLaw Canada’s Miriam Yosowich reports, “rested on the question [of] whether the dog walker was considered in possession of and owner of the dog at the time she was walking him.”

As we mentioned earlier, and as an experienced dog bite lawyer can tell you, dog owners are usually liable for damages caused by dog attacks, and only non-owners can be compensated for their injuries. In other words, if a person is attacked by their own dog, that person has no grounds for a personal injury claim.

The Ontario Court of Appeals found on January 13 2017 that the person who is “in physical possession and control over a dog just before it bites or attacks another person or animal” should be considered that dog’s “owner.” Based on this definition, the plaintiff was considered the dog’s owner at the time she was bitten, and was denied compensation.

This case sets an important precedent in Ontario. Dog-walkers provide an important service to pet-owners who work 9-to-5 jobs and are unable to walk their animal during the day. According to the Wilk v. Arbour ruling, people who walk dogs for a living are responsible for the aggressive behaviour of those animals. Will this lead some dog-walkers to abandon their job?

Bitten by a dog? A Will Davidson LLP dog bite lawyer can help

Dog attacks are unfortunately common in Ontario. Although most pets are well-behaved and bring great joy to their families, their owners must understand that they will be held responsible for any damages their dog causes. If you’ve been hurt by a dog, contact a Will Davidson LLP Oakville dog bite lawyer today to learn how we can help.

New Developments in Personal Injury Cases: Fitbit Now Being Used to Prove Personal Injury Losses

New Developments in Personal Injury Cases

 Proving Damages in Personal Injury Matters Using “Fitbit”

fitbit tracker
Source: www.fitbit.com

 In Calgary, new developments in personal injury law permit personal injury lawyers to prove their client’s claims with quantifiable data.

Fitbit, a popular fitness tracker, is being used by a Calgary law firm to show a client’s diminished physical activity levels in a personal injury claim. The client was a personal trainer who suffered injuries that prevent her from being as active as she used to be. This is apparently the first time that Fitbit data will be used in a personal injury case in Canadian court, or any other case for that matter.

What does this mean for personal injury law? A more quantifiable way to prove a client’s loss due to personal injury. However, it also means that insurers may attempt to get orders for the production of this information from Fitbit’s owner, Vivametrica, in order to show that a plaintiff did not in fact suffer the personal injury to the extent they alleged.

Read more about this interesting development in personal injury law here.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury, whether it be from a car accident, slip and fall, or any other cause,  you have legal rights.

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Please contact our Oakville personal injury law firm for more information about bringing a claim for personal injury damages and scheduling a free consultation.

Beware: Social Media and the Courtroom

Social Media can be a Plaintiff’s Enemy

Facebook has taken over the globe in unimaginable proportions. Many people use Facebook daily, especially for posting photographs of fun nights out with friends and family vacations. Privacy settings can be set quite high; however it is important to know there might always be a way around privacy settings. As an injured party, Facebook and other social media websites may become your enemy.

When you are involved in an accident, personal injury has been sustained, and a law suit has commenced, it is important to take into consideration that surveillance may be placed upon you. Another consideration to be made is that, after an accident, the opposing side may very well do investigating by way of social media sites too. When you have suffered personal injury from an accident, be sure to take extra precaution of what you are posting on these websites, because any inconsistencies between what you are saying and what is being shown, may be brought to light, despite those photographs not actually depicting the true extent of your pain from your accident injury that you may have most of the time.

Counsel has not been afraid to use Facebook and other social media cases for credibility issues during questioning and in Court for people who are claiming pain and suffering from injuries sustained in an accident.  In the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case, Kourtesis v. Joris, a young woman’s photograph postings led to her claim for damages for pain and suffering to be dismissed. The young woman claimed her social life had been ruined by the accident and subsequent injuries; however Facebook photographs depicted her out partying with friends. This led to the demise of her “ruined social life” claim and in the end, undermined her claim to have suffered other problems from the accident.

Despite irrelevant searches being looked down upon, Courts have tended to find that photographs relevant to accident injury claims on social media sites should be disclosed. For instance, if you manage to climb the tallest mountain, this should be made known. Lying and hiding those facts, even if you do have legitimate injuries, could lead to your case failing in every way. If you are on social media websites, be careful as to what you post, even if you are not part of a law suit. You never know how people may gain access to your profiles and nothing is off limits if it is relevant to your case. Always tell the truth and admit, for example, if your injuries from an accident do not cause you constant limitations and pain.

If you have sustained personal injury from an accident, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out about your legal rights.

 

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Got a dog? Make Sure to Leash it up.

Court awards dog attack victim $60,000.00.

puppyA Judge recently awarded $60,000.00 to a man attacked by a dog while taking his chihuahua for a walk.   The facts were fairly simple. Mr. and Ms. Yi’s claim were taking their cute little Chihuahua for a walk.  As they passed the Defendant’s home two dogs darted out and headed straight for the Plaintiffs’ little dog. Mr. Liu scooped up his little dog but was attacked in the process by the two other dogs.  He suffered dog attack bites in his right inner and outer arm, his right forearm, numerous bites on his left leg  and right thigh. He was treated for his dog attack bites at the Emergency Department of Trillium Hospital where he received a tetanus shot, antibiotics and the wounds were cleaned and stapled.

Liability was not an issue. There was no defence filed and because of this the Judge accepted the Plaintiffs’ version of events.

But – what is the law of dog attacks in a nutshell?

In Ontario we have a statute that is called the Dog Owners’ Liability Act.  This law imposes strict liability on owners regardless of knowledge or proof of a past history of vicious behaviour. A Court looks at who the owner is when used in relation to a dog.  The owner is normally a a person who possesses or harbours the dog and, where the owner is a minor, the person responsible for the custody of the minor. Once this is figured out then that owner of a dog is automatically liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack the dog on another person or domestic animal. The responsibility or liability of the owner never depends upon knowledge of the propensity of the dog or fault or negligence on the part of the owner, but the court shall reduce the damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages.

WHAT DID THE PLAINTIFFS CLAIM IN RELATION TO THE DOG ATTACK?

Mr. Liu claimed:

a)        General damages (compensation for pain and suffering) of $35,000.00 to $40,000;

b)        Loss of income of $26,185.94;

c)        Future scar revision surgery $866.00;

d)        Out of pocket expenses of $550.00.

Ms. Yi claimed:

a)        Housekeeping of $2,504.60;

b)        FLA claim of $4,000.00 to $4,500.00.

MR LIU’S CLAIMS 

The Judge found that there was no question that Mr. Liu received a number of dog bites in the dog attack. He found that general damages of $30,000.00 are appropriate.

Because of his injuries, Mr. Lui was off work from July 9 to August 1, 2010 and again in September. While he was off work because of the dog attack he was not receiving any income from his job as a commissioned car salesperson at Scarborough Mazda.  During the case Mr. Liu testified that July, August and September are the busiest months in a car dealership. This was supported by the testimony of Amandeep Bassi, Sales Manager at Scarbororough Mazda.

Mr. Liu testified that he could have earned at least $15,000.00 to $20,000.00 per month during this time if not for the dog attack. In fact he earned nothing for the last three weeks in July; $13,207.20 for the month of August and $8,721.86 for the month of September for a total of $21,929.06.

Why could he not work?

Mr. Liu testified that he was unable to earn as much as he could have because due to anxiety and difficulty in moving, and he was unable to reach new customers as quickly as some of the other salespeople – because of the dog attack. The Judge took a comparative view of what other sales people at the dealership made as well as an analysis Mr. Lui’s tax returns for prior years and awarded him $15,000.00 for loss of income.

OTHER DAMAGES

Mr. Liu’s claim for revision surgery was allowed as is his claim for out-of-pocket expenses.

MS. YI’S CLAIMS

Ms. Yi testified that at the time of the dog attack, she was working full-time. When she was at home, she would cook for 6 hours a night (4 hours more than usual) for a three week period, to ensure that Mr. Liu would have food for the next day. Before the accident she would perform housecleaning duties for 30 minutes per day. Because Mr. Liu was not available to help her, she had to perform housekeeping duties for 1.5 hours per day for 3 weeks. She also performed nursing duties for 2 hours per day for two weeks, in that she cleaned Mr. Liu’s wounds, helped him bathe and then would clean the bathroom.

As a spouse, Ms. Yi had the right to advance a claim as well pursuant to Family Law Act. This allows her to pursue a defendant for compensation for the loss of care, guidance and/or companionship that she lost that flows from Mr. Liu to her because of the dog attack.

At the time of the incident, Ms. Yi and Mr. Liu were planning their wedding for the following September. As a result of the injuries Mr. Liu and Ms. Yi fought often in the time leading up to their wedding. There were also some intimacy difficulties as Mr. Liu did not like to be touched after sustaining his injuries in the dog attack.

The Judge awarded her $2,504.60 in lost housekeeping claims as $3,000.00 for her Family Law Act claim.

The total award to Mr. Liu and Ms. Li was approximately $61,000.00.  Most dogs are gentle, loving companions. However, this is a difficult concept to appreciate when a dog attack has caused serious injury as in this case.  – Never underestimate the potential seriousness of a dog attack.

 

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