Dog Bites: When Man’s Best Friend Is Not So Friendly

Dog attacks are more common than many of us realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that around four and a half million people are bitten yearly, and almost one fifth of dog bite victims require medical attention. Children are more likely to require medical attention than adults, and the rate of dog bites among children is highest for children between the ages of five and nine.

Oklahoma’s dog bite statute

Oklahoma has enacted a statute that deals specifically with dog bites. The statute imposes strict liability, which means you do not need to prove that the owner was negligent. Even if the dog was known to be docile before the attack, the owner may still be held liable.

When claiming against a dog owner, you need to prove four elements:

  • The defendant owned the dog
  • The dog bit or injured you
  • The dog was not provoked
  • You had a lawful right to be in the place where you were attacked

The "lawful right to be in the place" is defined quite broadly and includes pubic areas, such as streets, parks, playgrounds, stores and businesses. It also includes the dog owner’s private property, if you were there to carry out an official duty (e.g., deliver the mail, read a meter), to work on the property at the owner’s request, or if you were expressly or implicitly invited by the property owner.

The statute does not apply to dog bites that occur in rural areas and in cities and towns that do not receive city or village mail delivery services, including public property in these areas. However, the owner of a dog that attacks a person in one of these locations may still be sued under common law negligence principles.

Negligence claims

To make a common law negligence claim against a dog owner, you need to prove:

  • You were injured
  • The dog owner was negligent
  • This negligence was a direct cause of your injury

If you were the victim of a dog bite, contact an experienced Oklahoma City civil litigation attorney .You may be entitled to claim for items that include your physical and mental suffering, medical bills and loss of earnings.

The civil litigation attorneys at Butler & Flynn can help. Contact us to arrange a consultation and to get the representation you need.