Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually. A troubling statistic is that with 60% of these victims are children. The Centers for Disease Control also has estimated half of all children who are under the age of 12 have been bitten by a dog. Now that summer time is coming, it means that families and their dogs will be out and about, playing in parks, and walking down the street. When you or your child has been bitten by a dog, what do you do?
Oklahoma’s Dog Bite Laws
As noted above, dog bites are unfortunately very common throughout the United States. These injuries are so common in fact that most states, including Oklahoma, have enacted individual dog bite laws. These laws are designed to put owners of dogs on notice, as well as provide those who have been bitten with legal recourse.
Oklahoma has a specific law that addresses dog bites and other injuries caused by dogs. Oklahoma Statutes section 4-42.1 states that a dog’s owner is liable for damages when:
- the dog bites or otherwise injures a person,
- the injured person did not provoke the dog, and
- the injured person was in a place he or she had a lawful right to be.
Oklahoma’s statute specifically provides that there is coverage under this statute not only for dog bites themselves but also for behaviors from dogs. One common dog behavior that leads to injuries is when a dog jumps on a person and knocks them down.
A Dog Owner has “Strict Liability” in Oklahoma
Dog owners are legally obligated to restrain, control, or take other safety precautions, in order to prevent harm, if they have any indication that their dog may be a physical threat. If a dog is not secured on a leash, properly secured on their owner’s premises, or under reasonable control, the owner can be held liable by a state court, for any unprovoked attack. Anytime a person has suffered an injury and wants to seek recovery for their injury they need to do so under a certain theory of liability. When it comes to dog bites the theory that is employed in Oklahoma is strict liability for dog bites. This means that if a dog bites a person, then their owner is liable for the injury or injuries that the dog causes regardless if they knew that the dog would bite or behave in an aggressive manner.
While this theory of liability is the most commonly used theory in the country when it comes to dog bites, there is another theory of liability that is important to understand if you are going to be visiting out of state this summer. Some states employ a so-called “one bite rule” which means that instead of imposing absolute liability is the strict liability states do, a one bite jurisdiction allows the owner to avoid some liability if they did not know or have reason to know that their dog would bite.
What Are the Deadlines for Filing Oklahoma Dog Bite Cases?
Each state across the nation has their own rules and deadlines for determining when a case can be brought. These laws are known as “statutes of limitations” and they prescribe a deadline for filing any kind of lawsuit in court. In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for dog bites and other injury cases gives an injured person two years to file the lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. Typically, this two-year time limit is counted from the date of the injury.
A case that is not filed before the two-year deadline expires will not be heard by the court. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand exactly how the statute of limitations applies in your particular dog bite case and to file your case
What To Do After You have Been Bitten
While the best course of action for dog bites is to try and avoid them by staying away from obviously aggressive dogs and choosing a family pet with a good temperament, if you have been bitten there are some things that you should do to avoid further injuries.
- Stop the bleeding and seek medical assistance
- Obtain the names and addresses of the dog owner and any witnesses.
- Take photographs of the wounds
- If the injury is severe you may want to call the police and file a dog bite report. Animal bites should be treated by a doctor and reported to the county health department at the time the incident occurs. To report a rabies complaint, please fill out our General Complaint form or call 425-4347. You may also call 425-4371.
- Collect insurance information
The most important thing though is to seek medical attention. Dog bites can be very severe and result in lifelong injuries and even death. While many think it is a thing of the past, dogs, even those that are not displaying symptoms can be carriers of the deadly rabies virus. Therefore, anytime you or your child has been bitten by a dog, you should seek medical treatment immediately as well as ask the owners if their dog is up to date with their shots.
Contact Our Lawyers in OKC. Let Us Fight for You
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should consult with a dog bite attorney who can explain to you your options that may be available to you. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation.
To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call our attorneys in Oklahoma City at the law offices of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040. We are here to help you understand your rights as an injury victim in Oklahoma.