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thinking of suing a vet

February 17th, 2007, 07:25 AM
I hae had a disasterous experience with a vet in Ontario.A complaint has been submitted to CVO and now I am looking for information on suing a vet in Ontario. Any and all imput would be greatly appreciated.thank you

February 17th, 2007, 08:34 AM
If you are suing for money and the amount is below 2-3,00$ (depending on the province), you can go to small claims court, which is pretty straightforward (google small claims court Ontario) and not expensive (if you win, the other party pays all costs).
Above that amount, you would have to go to civil court, uness you are alleging the vet did something criminal, which would mean police involvement and criminal court. For both of these, you would need a lawyer and a very healthy bank account.
Maybe if you provided some details (no names please)?

February 17th, 2007, 08:50 AM
Just to clarify. In Ontario the maximum amount allowed in small claims is now $10,000. Costs are not always awarded to the winning party. And when they are awarded there is a basic amount that the judge goes by, he can award a different amount in specific circumstances but most judges are loath to do that as it requires a lot more paperwork on their behalf.
Anything over $10,000 is then done in civil court.
Small claims is relitively easy ( have been there a few times myself) and self representation is common. Civil court is very extensive and the rules are very specific and at times difficult to understand ( for expample if your paperwork is not filed with the right colour back paper it can be not accepted by the courts). You can represent yourself but unless you know a lot about law it would be a very tough haul to win, and against a Vet you can bet he will have a damn good lawyer on board.
Also the statute of limitations in Ontario is 2 years from the date that you knew there was an issue, any longer than that and you cannot sue.
You can find info on the small claims process here:
The forms are here( you can fill out on line and then print):
Here is a listing of the fees required when going to small claims:
Here are the rules of small claims court:
before you decide to proceed make sure you have everything at hand to prove your case, dates, paperwork,letters,bills, any other documentation, also a list of witnesses( and make sure that any witnesses you have are actually willing to testify if it does go to trial)

Hope this helps.

February 17th, 2007, 09:14 AM
Thanks Tarasmum, I stand corrected. It's been awhile since I went to Small Claims here in Quebec (and won!).

February 17th, 2007, 10:14 AM
I don't know the circumstances or the reason you want to sue.

But you would have to prove the vet was actually negligent and that the incident was not a result of say an animal having a severe allergic reaction to a medication for example, it could be a vaccine or anesthesia drug reactions, the vet has no way to tell in advance if an animal will have a severe allergic reaction to a drug, so not something they have control of.

Also medical science is not an exact science, an animal can have A, B and E symptoms, but A,B & E symptoms maybe caused be 36 different diseases, for a vet or doctor to determine want it could be caused by they may have to start testing for the most likely possibilities, but things can get drastically worse before an answer is found. A vet may suggest a number of tests, but owners chooses the least expensive tests first which may prevent the vet from having the best clues for what could be wrong. In some cases owners have spent thousand of $$$ on tests and still don't have an answer to what is wrong, in medical science there still a lot of unknowns

In spay and neuter surgeries( and other surgeries) most vets offer blood work to be done prior as optional to help reduce costs so more people will be willing to spay and neuter, majority of the time the surgery will go fine even without the bloodwork being done but in the remainder of the percent a lot of problems could have been avoided if bloodwork was done first, as it can provide a vet with what anesthesia drugs are best to use and also to determine if there blood clotting problems that may pose a serious problems during or after the surgery, so in the case where an owner turns down doing the bloodwork the vet cannot be held liable.

Certain types of surgeries have very high risks for example spleen removal surgeries the odds are only 50% survival within the week of surgery, there are times when a vet must resort to attempting to remove eg in the case of possiblecancer or torsion of the spleen, but if can at all be avoided they try to. So certain types of procedures do come with very high risks in the case of the spleen it can be 100% fatal to leave in, so in a bloat case where the stomach and spleen has both rotated, and the vet sees once inside the vet needs to take that 50% gamble as there is no way they can just stop in a middle of a surgery to explain to the owner how serious the situation is.

So there are times when procedures can go terribly wrong, even the simplest thing like going for vaccinations where a dog has a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine and dies, it is terribly tragic but not something an owner can hold a vet responsible for.

Like I said I have no idea what circumstances are leading you to want to sue the vet but decided I would provide some examples of what would not be winable because there is no neglect or failure on the part of the vet.

February 17th, 2007, 06:52 PM
I do not know the circumstances but we (my bf and I) have been spending the weekend reading - kind of a relaxing and getting back on our feet after very difficut weeks - in his case, a long arduous trial and in mine, just a bad week in terms of my own health, losing a few patients, severe pain and mega mega stress including post traumatic stress from some stuff that happened to me with Drs without Borders. (Nobody to sue there, I opted to go and still plan to - it is pretty nornal actually for us to have these experiences after being in war zones and seeing so much suffering - esp from illnesses routinley cured here but that are "terminal" there - so needless, anyway :offtopic: and :sorry: )

He was telling me from a legal journal he was reading how difficult it often is to actually obtain the money owed to you in a small claims case. He used to be a Small Claims Court Clerk which essentially here meant being a Judge over Small Claims. People win but they then have to collect and that is often the hardest part. he hated the job, needless to say.

So, you might do better - depending on the circumstances with a lawyer - ie if a pet died and there was negligence that can be proven with documents and witnesses and another bet who will testify about the negligence in the care. (That is usually hard to find here but I do not know about where you are - may be easier in a larger province.) My cousin - who works as a vet tech even tho she has a masters in Nursing was not sworn in as an expert when she testified for someone who brought their pet to the clinic she works at. (The vet was in an impossible situation re testifying, a conflict if interest because of a govt contract and the court would prob have not have accepted her either). So, her testimony was taken but since it was not considered "expert", was given less credence and something like court costs and very little money was awarded. (Maybe 10% of the vet costs).

You have to get a good Judge and all that fun stuff if you go that route and of course it can be expensive and you have to win to get the court costs back.

If it was more minor, small claims may well be the route to go and I hope you can collect on it. There may be different regulations in different provinces regarding how money is collected. Here, small businesses will declare bankruptcy or change the name of the company (in tis case, the practice) or find other ways around it. Sort of on par with spousal support issues, another frustrating legal issue. Meb99 might know more about how t works in Quebec - or are you in Ontario? (Quebec has a differences in its legal system as you prob know).

February 18th, 2007, 02:25 PM
I have to agree on the collecting issue.
as pathetic as this sounds, this is true, if you are ordered to pay directly to the other party, they can actually refuse the payment and then file a defult order which goes against your credit rating! if you are the one to be paid and the payee doesnt pay up you then have to pay more fees to file the defalt order, then you have to pay to have a garnishment or other means done to collect and even then you may never see the money.
With a vet though you are looking at malpractice. I am inclined to think that there may be other avenues to take besides small claims, someone at the Collage of Vetrenarians should be able to direct you on how to launch a malpractice suit. Or better yet go to a lawyer that offers a free consult.

February 18th, 2007, 03:13 PM
I took my bouvier to the vet because she was not her normal self.The vet did a very quick exam and found she had a fever of 40.4for which antibiotics were perscribed. I asked that when doing blood work she check the thyroid levels as I had noticed dark patched on Zoey's gums . When the initial results came back they confirmed the thyroid condition but shed no light on the cause of the fever. From the moment these tests came back the vet ignored the fever and 48hrs later my report that Zoey was much worse was ignord as well. By day 6 my dog was completely down and the vet still would not acknowledge the fever.I was told " if you don't like the way your dog is being treated your free to go else where". I so I scrambled to find another vet that would see Zoey.... 3hrs later and 30 miles from home my girl died convulsing and howling still in the back of my car where the new vet was trying to examine her. The first vet in her response to my complaint to CVO has admitted that on the last day she finally understood how sick Zoey was but still turned us away because she claims to have dismissed me as a client for non compliance with the thyroid treatment plan. She never said anything to me about no longer being a client and after 18yrs with that practice it never occured to me .
I am grateful for all the feed back...has helped a lot

February 18th, 2007, 03:18 PM
I am very sorry for your loss :grouphug:

February 18th, 2007, 03:22 PM
What a sad story. :sad: I am so sorry for your loss. :grouphug: :candle: Good luck. :fingerscr

February 18th, 2007, 09:04 PM
sorry about your loss:candle: good luck:fingerscr

February 19th, 2007, 03:59 PM
Thank you all for your kindness and sympathy..... the loss of my blonde wonder is still keenly felt but life has been generous and a new little blonde bouvier will be joining me mid March.... Zoey taught me a lot about loving unconditionally and having fun along the way.... now it is my turn to pass this wisdom on to Violet

February 21st, 2007, 11:42 PM
Thank you all for your kindness and sympathy..... the loss of my blonde wonder is still keenly felt but life has been generous and a new little blonde bouvier will be joining me mid March.... Zoey taught me a lot about loving unconditionally and having fun along the way.... now it is my turn to pass this wisdom on to Violet

Very sorry to hear about your loss. Where in Ontario are you located? You don't have another dog named Sophie do you?

February 22nd, 2007, 01:14 AM
nothing hurts more than loosing a much loved pet. my heart goes out to you. Take care

February 22nd, 2007, 09:22 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss of Zoey. I wish you all the luck in the world! :candle:

This is :offtopic: , but OMG... Soroush!! You've been gone for forever! lol How is Lucy? Send me a pic for the pet wall!

February 22nd, 2007, 10:11 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss of Zoey. I wish you all the luck in the world! :candle:

This is :offtopic: , but OMG... Soroush!! You've been gone for forever! lol How is Lucy? Send me a pic for the pet wall!

Dear Mahealani,

I'm amazed that you remembered me and Lucy!
Lucy is as adorable as ever. She's that irresistable spice of my "not so relaxed" life. Her unconditional love has taught me a lot of things...

I'll send you a pic.

Thanks again for asking

February 22nd, 2007, 07:10 PM
Hi Sorouch.... I live in Stratford and my other dog is Barlowe a terrier poodle cross . He's been trying to fill Zoey's paw prints unfortunately it's with shredded paper and chewed up socks! I suspect he will settle down some when Violet arrives after all being a big brother is a very responsible postion....that's my story and I'm sticking to it

February 23rd, 2007, 03:32 PM
I am so sorry you and your Zoey had to go through that!!!! It is tough to loose a beloved pet but that situation: adds to the stress of it all, My heart goes out to you!!!

grouphug: :grouphug: