The Law in British Columbia: Establishing Liability
If you have been injured in a dog bite incident in British Columbia you have three legal avenues to pursue to establish liability against a dog owner: 1) scienter doctrine 2) negligence 3) or the Occupiers Liability Act.
- Scienter Doctrine
Scienter is the Latin word for ‘knowledge’. The doctrine of scienter holds an owner liable for the actions of their animal if they know that the animal has poor behaviour or the propensity to be aggressive. In order to prove scienter the injured party must show:
- The dog in question belongs to the owner;
- The dog in question had an inclination or tendency to cause the type of harm that happened; and
- The owner knew of that tendency.
Owners are required to reasonably control their dogs to prevent injuries, but the standard is not perfection. Negligence cases aren’t straightforward. They rely heavily on the context.
To establish liability in negligence you must prove on a balance of probabilities: (1) that the defendant owed you a duty of care; (2) that the defendant breached the standard of care of a reasonable person in the circumstances or failed to take reasonable care to prevent the injury; and (3) as a result of that breach, you suffered a reasonably foreseeable injury.
- Occupiers Liability Act
Occupier’s liability is where damage happens on property controlled by the occupier. Property owners and occupiers in BC have an obligation to take reasonable care to ensure that people are reasonably safe while on their premises.
The “One Bite Rule” in British Columbia
There is a big difference if you’re injured by a dog in British Columbia versus Ontario, even if the circumstances are otherwise very similar. In British Columbia it is often said that every dog gets one bite, as a dog can often bite someone once without consequence under the requirements of the Scienter Doctrine.
Dog bite claims can be complex, and an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you receive adequate compensation for your injuries.
Note: This article does not contain legal advice. If you would like advice on your specific situation please contact Jiwa Law Corporation.