If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accidentslip and fall accident, a dog bite or animal attack incident, a personal injury lawyer in Oshawa or Whitby can assist you with your claim. At KSB Law, our Oshawa and Whitby personal injury lawyers routinely help injured accident victims obtain the compensation they need and deserve.


Strict liability is legal responsibility that can be imposed on a wrongdoer, regardless of whether the act was intentional or not.  Establishing strict liability simply requires proof that the act in question actually happened and that the defendant failed to take all reasonable care to avoid the act.

In strict liability cases, the defendant can raise the defence that he or she engaged in the act in question, but had undertaken due diligence. In other words, he or she had taken reasonable steps to avoid the commission of the prohibited act which occurred.

Strict liability rests in the middle of the spectrum of legal tests. At one end is certain offences or torts that require proof that the act occurred and that the defendant intended the act to occur. At the other end of the spectrum is absolute liability offences, where the only proof required is that the act actually happened.


Many Highway Traffic Act offences require the strict liability standard. For example, the recently created stunt driving by speeding at least 50 km per hour (kph) above the posted speed limit on an Ontario highway is a strict liability offence. This means the prosecution only needs to prove the physical elements of the offence namely that the person was driving 50 kph above the posted speed limit and that he or she failed to take all reasonable care to avoid that act.

Then the defendant has the opportunity to raise the due diligence offence. In this case, the defendant would have to provide evidence that he or she undertook all reasonable care to avoid driving at 50 kph above the posted amount.

This very issue of speeding over 50 kph was addressed in R. v. Rahm, where the Ontario Court of Appeal, sent the matter back to trial. In this case the defendant was clocked at 131 kph in an 80 kph zone as she was passing a truck.  The initial Justice of the Peace held that the offence was an absolute liability offence (that is potentially punishable by incarceration) and did not permit a defence of due diligence. The defendant’s argument that this presumption violated her rights under s.7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was rejected at trial but it was successful on her appeal from conviction. The appeal judge found the offence unconstitutional, agreeing that stunt driving by speeding is an offence of strict liability, not absolute liability, so the defendant was acquitted. When the Crown appealed, the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial to allow the defendant the opportunity to lead evidence on due diligence.


Tort claims are the civil action against the liable party for injuries to the person, such as the personal injury arising from a slip and fallmotor vehicle accident or dog bite accidents. While there are other types of tort claims, these negligent personal injury torts are the basis of the tort claims addressed here.

Tort claims require proof of harm and either proof of negligence or intent to harm. As strict liability does not require either of these, it is rarely used as the standard in tort claims.

One example, where strict liability is the standard, is in tort claims related to a dog bite accident.  Under section two of the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (the “DOLA”), the liability of a dog owner is set out as follows:

  1. The owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal.
  1. Where there is more than one owner of a dog, they are jointly and severally liable under this section.
  1. The liability of the owner does not depend upon knowledge of the propensity of the dog or fault or negligence on the part of the owner, but the court shall reduce the damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages.
  1. An owner who is liable to pay damages under this section is entitled to

recover contribution and indemnity from any other person in proportion to the degree to which the other person’s fault or negligence caused or contributed to the damages.

While the language of this provision allows some defences to be raised such as the contributory negligence of the plaintiff or other defendants, under subsection three, the DOLA is clear that the plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant was negligent. The plaintiff just needs to prove that the dog bite or attack occurred.

The court addressed the standard of strict liability in Rai v. Flowers. The plaintiff was attacked from behind by a dog named Kahlau and allegedly was bitten and scratched in the buttocks. During the trial there were a number of issues about the quantum of damages. However, the defendants were found to be clearly liable for any damages Ms. Rai sustained, as they had admitted that Kahlau made contact with Ms. Rai and that they were the owners of Kahlau. Under strict liability, that is sufficient for proving liability.


Whether a matter is governed by absolute liability, strict liability or negligence can be complex. At KSB Law, we have experience helping injured accident victims with matters that involve all three types of liability. We receive numerous referrals from past clients as trusted personal injury lawyers in Oshawa or Whitby.

After sustaining an injury from an accident, the last thing you want to be worried about are complex rules of law for determining liability. Call us at 905-579-5302 to schedule your free consultation with our Oshawa law firm.