Oklahoma Dog Bite Laws
Oklahoma’s statutes regarding dog bites are different when compared with laws in other states. Oklahoma law states that a dog’s owner may be held liable if his or her dog bites or injures a person who did nothing to provoke the dog and who was not trespassing. Dog bite victims can also pursue a negligence case against a dog owner who was negligent in the handling or control of the dog, which caused injury to others.
The state of Oklahoma also enforces a strict liability law. Strict liability dog bite laws hold the owner liable for any personal injuries the dog inflicts, even if the dog has never previously acted aggressively. For example, if the dog jumps on someone, causing injury, the victim can hold the owner responsible, even if a similar situation had never occurred before. Many other states instead opt for the “one bite” rule. This rule does not hold the dog owner liable until the second time a dog bites someone or shows aggression.
Is It Worth Pursuing Your Case?
Personal injury lawsuits seek to recover monetary compensation to cover expenses such as medical bills and financial losses, in addition to pain and suffering. You should consider seeking restitution for a dog bite or attack if you suffered severe injuries that required medical attention and resulted in expensive medical bills, or you suffered significant financial losses as a result of a dog attack. In some cases, the insurance company of the dog owner will offer a settlement to finish the case quickly. However, these settlements rarely take your potential future expenses into account.
Our attorneys can help you determine whether your case is worth pursuing and will ensure it is filed within the appropriate time frame.
All states impose a statute of limitations, or a deadline for filing a lawsuit. In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years. This deadline is typically two years from the date the injury occurred. Lawsuits filed beyond the statute of limitations will not be heard or tried in court. It is vital to work with a personal injury attorney from the start. Our attorneys can help you determine whether your case is worth pursuing and will ensure it is filed within the appropriate time frame.
How to Prove Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
In general, all dog owners are required to exercise a certain level of care over their animals. With Oklahoma's strict liability laws, owners are automatically liable for most dog bite injuries. However, there are circumstances which will require you to prove the dog's owner was negligent in exercising a reasonable level of care. Typically, to win a dog bite case, the injured individual (or their parents or guardians in the case of a child) must prove:
- The owner had a duty to exercise reasonable care to control their dog.
- The owner failed to meet that duty.
- The negligence of the owner directly caused harm to the victim.
When determining what is considered reasonable care, our team can investigate the circumstances surrounding the dog attack. The courts take a variety of factors into account when determining whether an owner is liable for their dog biting someone, including:
- Whether the owner took reasonable precautions, such as chains, fences, and warning signs
- The dog's history
- The breed of the dog
- Whether the owner violated any laws, such as local leash laws
It is important to draw a link between the actions of the owner and your dog bite injury. We will investigate all the events that led up to the attack, as well as the history of the dog and the owner.
Trespassing and Negligence
Determining whether an owner is liable for a dog attack becomes more complicated if the injured individual trespassed on private property before the attack. In many cases, a dog owner can be held responsible for their dog biting a trespasser. While a homeowner owes a lower standard of care to a trespasser than an invited guest or patron, there are still certain requirements.
Homeowners must not unnecessarily expose others to danger. In addition, they must provide warning of hidden dangers, such as foreseeable injuries by animals. In a dog bite case involving a trespasser, the injured individual must prove that the homeowner failed to meet these standards, directly leading to their injuries.
Dogs with Dangerous Propensities
A dog with a "dangerous propensity" is one that exhibited characteristics indicating they may be a threat to a human being. In these situations, the owner of the dog is held to strict liability, unless they took sufficient precautionary measures, such as chaining up the dog in the yard.