Liability claims costs for dog bites are on the rise, according to Canadian, Canada’s Insurance and Risk Magazine.  In a post on 2013-05-16, the report  states: “Claims costs related to dog bites are on the rise, accounting for a third of homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million,  according to the Insurance Information Institute in the United States. While the number of dog bite claims decreased by 1.4% between 2011 and 2012, the average cost paid out for the claims increased by 1.2% according to the report.”

According to the article, “the average cost paid out in 2012 was $29,752, up from $29,396 in 2011. In 2003, the average cost paid out was $19,162, according to the institute’s figures.”  Closer to home, in 2012 State Farm paid out $108 million for 3,670 claims related to dog bites in Canada, as stated in the article on the Canadian Underwriter website which also states:  “Ontario topped the number of dog bite claims with 33 totalling $2,421,814. The previous high was in 2007, when the insurer paid out $1,178,000.”

The Canadian Safety Council estimates there are 460,000 dog bite incidents each year with children under 10.  The Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine has reported that “dog bites account for more injury-related emergency department visits than injuries associated with playgrounds, all-terrain vehicles, rollerblading or skateboards.”  (Source:

There are some important rules to be aware of as both a pet owner, and as someone who may have been injured as a result of being bitten by a dog.

According to, under the Civil Liability article on the site, “The owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by a dog on another person or domestic animal.”

To put it bluntly, dog owners are required to take the necessary steps or precautions to prevent their pet from causing harm to other human beings or other animals.  Failure to do so may mean that they are liable for damages caused to the injured party, under the law.

The Ontario Dog Owner’s Liability Act heavily favours the injured party.  The Act enforces strict liability of the dog owner so there is no burden on the injured party to prove that the dog owner was negligent.  However, if it is found that the victim contributed to the damages (including ignoring clear warning signs not to approach the dog or provoking the dog), the court may reduce the damages awarded in such instances.

Sadly, hundreds of dog attacks happen each year in Canada, many of which involve children being bitten or attacked, resulting in serious injuries. Dog bites take a long time to heal and aside from the physical injury, the victim may suffer scarring and emotional damage as well, both of which can often be grounds for a dog bite claim or court action.

At Horowitz Injury Law we have almost 35 years of expertise representing clients who have suffered from a dog bite or from being attacked by a dog.  We fully comprehend the magnitude of this problem and will work diligently to seek compensation for victims of dog attacks.  If you or a loved one has been the victim of dog attack, please call us today for a free consultation to discuss your rights under the law.  Horowitz Injury Law Toronto, 416-925-4100.