Being attacked by a dog is a traumatic experience. If you are attacked or bit by a dog, it can leave lasting scars and disfiguring injuries – and for some, a dog attack can cause psychological issues such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you have been bit by a dog or other animal, you can get compensation for your loss and damage. This article will discuss the steps you should take if you have been attacked or bit by a dog, including seeking medical attention, reporting the incident, and consulting with a personal injury lawyer about your options, including filing a lawsuit against the dog owner to get financial compensation for your injuries. Get immediate medical attention for your dog bite injuries If you are bit by a dog, you should immediately seek appropriate medical attention. If your injuries are severe, call an ambulance or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. Otherwise, go immediately to your doctor or a walk-in clinic. Dog bite injury can cause damage to the skin and beneath the skin, including damage to muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require stitches or surgery. It is very important to have any wounds cleaned properly, as the risk of infection from a dog bite injury or scratches from a dog, including tetanus and rabies, is high. Proper treatment and closing of wounds should also help reduce the risk of scarring. Report the dog attack to the proper authorities Police may be called to the scene of the dog bite incident to assist with medical attention or to get control of the dog. Animal control officers may also be called to the scene. If not, you should contact the local authorities to report the incident as soon as possible after the fact. For example, here is the contact information if the dog bite or attack occurred in Vancouver. Animal control officers will investigate the incident and determine if there should be any action by them against the dog owner. If the incident occurred in Vancouver, the City of Vancouver's bylaw prosecutor will review the investigation evidence and, if necessary, the City’s recommendation to press charges. If the dog bite occurred outside of Vancouver, local bylaws, provincial statutes and criminal code provisions may apply, particularly if the dog is a dangerous dog. Regardless of whether the incident occurred in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, or elsewhere in BC, reporting the incident to proper authorities is important to help determine whether this is the first time a bite or attack has been perpetrated by the dog in question, which is an important determining factor in potential legal proceedings. Document the dog bite incident Seeking medical attention and reporting the incident to the proper authorities is important for the additional reason that it documents your injuries and the incident itself. If law enforcement or animal control are involved, it is very helpful to obtain any reports from them as this will provide evidence of who owns the dog and the location that the dog bite incident occurred. Clinical records from doctors and/or the hospital should also be obtained, as they can then serve as medical evidence in the event that a lawsuit against the dog owner is necessary. Our personal injury lawyers also highly recommend photographing your injuries, both in the immediate aftermath of the animal attack and over the course of the healing process. Discuss your options with a personal injury lawyer In some provinces, there is strict liability against the dog owner if the dog causes personal injury. In BC, the law in this area is more complicated as strict liability does not apply. Under BC law, a dog owner can be only held liable for personal injury compensation if one of three grounds is established in your lawsuit: 1. The doctrine of “scienter” (this requires the injured dog attack victim to prove that the dog was aggressive or had a tendency to bite, and that the dog owner knew of the dog’s tendencies, which is why it is often referred to as the “one free bite” rule); 2. A claim under BC’s Occupiers’ Liability Act (if the injury by a dog bite or attack occurred on the dog owner’s property); and/or 3. A claim in the common law of negligence (for example, if the dog owner did not know of the dog’s tendencies, but the dog owner was negligent in failing to keep the dog under control at all times). As can be seen from the above summary of BC dog bite law, the type of lawsuit you can bring to get compensation for your injuries will depend on the circumstances of the dog, the dog owner, and where the dog bite incident occurred. It is advisable that you consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the incident to discuss the facts of your case. A skilled personal injury lawyer can explain all of your legal options, protect your legal rights, and provide you with an estimate of the range of compensation you can expect to receive (for example, if you sustained lacerations or suffered scarring; broken bones; internal injuries; a concussion from falling and hitting your head during the attack or while trying to escape the dog attack; and/or psychological difficulties as a result of the trauma). Bit by a dog or another animal? Get compensation for your injuries For more information on dog bite lawsuits in Vancouver or other animal bite lawsuits in Vancouver, reach out to us. At Bronson Jones & Company LLP, we offer experienced personal injury lawyers who will fight your case for you. If you or your child has been attacked by a dog, our lawyers can advise you on the civil lawsuit you could file and the amount of compensation you can expect to receive. Contact us at 1-855-852-5100 (toll-free 24 hours) for a free initial consultation.