Dog bites are an unfortunately common occurrence in Nova Scotia, especially for children who are the most common victims of dog bites. Especially considering how severe dog bite-related injuries can be, with 1 to 2 deaths happening in Canada every year as a result, it is essential to be aware of what can be done after a dog attack has taken place and how to ensure that your needs will be met.
Dog bites have the potential to be highly traumatic events, especially for children who are often the victims. Injuries can result in scarring that will remain for the rest of their lives and severe psychological effects. When such injuries result, compensation is needed to care for the injured person, but sometimes it is difficult to determine who you should claim against when there is no human cause of your injury.
So, what can be done when a dog harms you or your child?
What Are Dog Bite Injuries?
Dog bite injuries are not always minor and can include both physical and psychological injuries. Minor injuries could range from simple bruising to scratches on hands and arms. Severe injuries caused by dog attacks can leave permanent scars and even cause long-lasting psychological trauma. Both types of injury should be taken into account.
Common Dog Bite Physical Injuries
Physical injuries resulting from dog bites can range from mild to severe. Common examples of physical injuries caused by dog bites include:
- Facial disfigurement;
- Wounds to arms, hands, legs, and feet;
- Broken bones;
- Concussions; and
- Nerve damage.
Psychological Injuries Resulting From Dog Bite Incidents
The psychological injuries resulting from dog attacks can also support a claim and should not be overlooked. People injured by dogs can face psychological effects that can last for years, even after physical damage has been healed. Common examples of psychological injuries caused by dog bites include:
- Anxiety, especially around dogs;
- Depression; and
- Panic attacks.
Dog attacks can cause people who once loved dogs to fear them and have long-lasting impacts on their daily lives.
Medical Treatment for Dog Bite Injuries
Medical treatment for dog bite related injuries will vary depending on the injury. For some, a dog bite related injury will mean a trip to the doctor’s office and stitches. For others, these injuries can require more extensive treatment including:
- Plastic surgery to repair resulting scars or wounds.
- Attending physiotherapy for rehabilitation after muscle or nerve damage.
Those injured in dog bite related events may also want to seek counselling to deal with psychological impacts such as depression and panic attacks. For children, counselling should be sought especially if there are symptoms such as sleep problems, separation anxiety, and nightmares.
Do I Have a Legal Claim for a Dog Bite?
When assessing your injuries after an accident, you may want to pursue a legal claim against the owner of the dog. You can make a legal claim even if:
- The dog has no history of biting or violence,
- The dog owner tried to restrain the dog, or
- The dog was provoked to attack.
Ultimately, the severity of the injury suffered will determine how much your claim is worth. Personal injury lawyers who handle dog bite cases can tell you how much your case is worth based on the law and their experience. NOVA Injury Law offers free Case Reviews for all dog bite cases. Contact us now to book your Case Review today!
Who is Responsible?
The responsible party will be the dog owner or organization that owns or was in control of the dog at the time of the accident. Whether you were on private or public property when you were bitten, the dog owner can be held responsible. However, if the attack was not within the dog’s usual nature, the dog owner may not be held responsible.
The law around dog bites in Nova Scotia is not as clear-cut as in other provinces where there are often Dog Owners’ Liability Acts. Despite this, dog owners can still be held accountable and made to pay for any harm caused.
How is Fault Established in a Dog Bite Case?
In Nova Scotia, there are two ways to establish a dog owner’s liability for their dog’s attack: negligence claims and claims under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.
Negligence means that an individual has failed to take proper care, which results in harm to another person. In dog bite claims, negligence means that a dog owner has failed to take proper care in managing their dog, which has resulted in harm.
Formerly, dog bite negligence claims required you to prove that a dog owner knew of their dog’s tendency to bite to hold them liable, but this has since been rejected in Nova Scotia.
In Nova Scotia, we look to the circumstances of the attack, considering the efforts that the owner made to control their dog (use of a leash or signage) as well as the nature of the dog. To hold the owner accountable in negligence, three things must be established:
- That the owner owed you or your loved one a duty of care,
- That the owner failed to act reasonably in the circumstances, and
- That the owner’s unreasonable actions led to the injury.
Occupiers’ Liability Act
Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, it is necessary to show that the dog owner knew (or should have known) their dog may be a danger to people on their property and that they did not take reasonable steps to prevent this danger. Even if the dog does not have a history of biting, the owner can still be found at fault harm resulting from unsafe conduct on their property.
Occupier liability law in Nova Scotia considers a multitude of factors to determine whether or not the property owner is liable. You should contact a personal injury law who handles dog bite injury cases to learn whether a claim based under the Occupiers’ Liability Act is applicable.
What Should I Do Immediately After I Have Been Bitten by a Dog?
Make sure that medical treatment is sought for injuries. Any dog attack which results in medical treatment being required should be reported to the police immediately.
The following steps should also be taken:
- Identify the Dog Owner. Determine the name and address of the dog owner.
- Identify Witnesses. You may want to record names and contact information of witnesses to the attack.
- Record Details. Write down what you remember of the attack. Include information such as how long the
attack was, how much pain was suffered, and what you were doing before the attack.
- Take Pictures. You should take pictures of any injuries which were suffered as well as any clothing or
personal belongings which may have been damaged in the attack.
- Contact a Lawyer. Even if you do not want to take your case to court, you should speak to a lawyer before contacting the dog owner
or their insurance company.
How Can I Receive Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury?
You can attempt to negotiate a settlement with the owner, but often this will be unsuccessful. If negotiations fail, you will want to begin legal proceedings against the dog owner. In Nova Scotia, most homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance policies cover claims for dog bites or attacks. If the homeowner is found liable, their insurance company will cover the costs of your injuries. However, if the dog was provoked, compensation may be reduced.
While your immediate medical expenses after a dog bite may be covered, there are long-term costs which may not be covered. An injury lawyer can help make sure that you will be compensated for the injury, long-term expenses such as caregiver costs, and lost income.
How Can NOVA Injury Help?
At NOVA Injury Law we will act on your behalf to advocate for you in your claim against dog owners and their insurance companies. Our legal team will help you to navigate through the complicated law in Nova Scotia around dog bites and help ensure that injuries and damages are accounted for.
The whole idea behind an injury claim is to compensate injury victims for their losses – and this is a wide-ranging task with unique facts in each case. To learn more about NOVA Injury Law’s approach to protecting injury victims’ rights, contact us now to book your free Case Review. During the free Case Review process, we will give you our honest opinion about your case, how much your dog bite injury claim might be worth, and what you should consider as your next steps.
If you are in need of legal advice or representation for your dog bite claim in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or anywhere in Atlantic Canada, our personal injury lawyers are here to help. Contact us today and tell us more about your claim – we are here to help!