Dog bites often occur to friends or family members of the owner of the dog in question. As a result, many dog-bite victims choose not to pursue a lawsuit against the dog’s owner, whereas they most likely would have if he or she had been a stranger. This should not be the case.
Under the Dog Owners’ Liability Act in Ontario, the owner of a dog, or a person who “possesses or harbours” the dog, is “liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal”. The reality is, however, that if the owner possesses a house, the damages will be paid by the owner’s insurance company and not come out of the owner’s pocket. This is one of the reasons we have house insurance.
If your dog hurt somebody you knew or loved, wouldn’t you want that person to be compensated for any pain, suffering or lost work wages they should incur? The majority of the time, the dog will not be euthanized, and most dog bite cases settle out-of-court.
Though lawsuits can be perceived to be personal, one resulting from a dog-bite shouldn’t be, even if it is against the owner of the dog who is a friend or family member. This is why we carry insurance; this is what insurance is for.