04 Mar Dog Bite Personal Injury Claims: Ultimate Guide
Ultimate Guide to Dog Bite Claims
One out of five dog bite incidents requires medical attention. Children and older adults are more likely to suffer injuries from a dog bite attack. From severe impairment or death to minor scrapes, dog bites are often the result of a dog attack. But can you file a personal injury claim for a bite from someone else’s dog? This is your ultimate guide to dog bite personal injuries!
So, can you file a personal injury claim for a dog bite? Yes. When someone else’s dog has bitten you, you have the right to file a personal injury claim. This is often done with the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, but this varies from state to state. In Oklahoma, there is a law that holds the dog owner or owners liable for the dog bite.
Oklahoma Law Regarding Dog Bites
Oklahoma dog bite law states, “the owner or owners of any dog shall be liable for damages to the full amount of any damages sustained when his dog, without provocation, bites or injuries any person while such person is in or on a place where he has a lawful right to be.”
Legally, any person can lawfully kill a dog that is chasing that person’s livestock. If a dog is judged to be “dangerous,” the owner must register the dog and keep it enclosed except when our on a leash and muzzle. They also have to post $50,000 in liability insurance.
If the dog owner doesn’t take reasonable action to prevent their dog from injuring others, they are negligent and responsible for any damages their dog inflicts. When you are proving fault, you’ll want to show the insurance company that the owner they insure did not prevent their dog from attacking you.
A reasonable dog owner should know if their dog may be a hazard to others. If the dog shows signs of aggressive behavior: snarling, nipping at children, lunges towards strangers, or is aggressive toward other dogs, the owner should know the dog may be likely to hurt someone.
Is the Owner Always Liable?
Almost always, the dog’s owner is held liable. For the owner to be held responsible for damages, the following must be true:
- A dog injures you or bites you.
- You didn’t provoke the dog.
- You had the lawful right to be in the place where the bite or injury happened.
The only time a dog owner isn’t held liable in Oklahoma is when the victim trespassed onto private property or provoking the dog. Provoking the dog could include striking the dog or throwing things at it. Physical threats and attacks to the dog’s owner might also count as provoking the dog. Other than these circumstances, Oklahoma is a strict liability law regarding dog bite cases.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
After a dog has bitten you, you should seek immediate medical attention. This is essential to your health and safety. It can also help you to document your case as much as possible. If you’ve called 911, allow paramedics to treat you. If you don’t go to the emergency room, you should see a primary health care provider or an urgent care center.
Some dog bite injuries require you to get stitches which will need to be treated by medical professionals. All dog bites and scratches can lead to severe infections and diseases without treatment.
File a Report
After you’ve received immediate medical attention, you’ll want to make sure to file a report. You can report to the police about a dog attack or to your local animal control department. An animal control officer can gather information from the dog owner about current rabies vaccinations and other health issues.
They have the ability to:
- Have the dog tested for diseases like rabies.
- Issue citations against the dog’s owner.
- Order the owner to confine or muzzle the dog.
- Remove the dog from the location for observation.
Note that there is a statute of limitations for personal injury cases. For Oklahoma, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury cases. This means that you have two years from the date that a dog bites you to file a lawsuit. Any time after the two-year statute of limitation will reduce the amount of compensation for your losses and medical bills.
Only in particular situations is the statute of limitations can be extended. However, you shouldn’t count on that being the case when you experience a dog bite. When you file a lawsuit, you should allow for an appropriate amount of time to prepare and talk to a personal injury lawyer. You’ll want enough time to gather evidence for your case. If a dog has bitten you, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected and all evidence is gathered in a timely manner.
Get Contact Information from the Owner
Next, you should obtain information about the dog owner, like their name and address. You’ll need their contact information and the name of their insurance company. If they’re a renter, try and get their landlord’s information as well. If you are unable to get the information directly from the owner, see if you can obtain it from a report.
Ensure that you get a copy of the animal control report when they’ve verified the dog’s health status. If you’d like, you can ask them if any other complaints have been made for the same dog or the owner. Any supporting information can help you with your claim.
Collect Evidence to Support Your Claim
Finally, you should collect evidence to support your claim. The stronger your proof, the stronger your lawsuit will be. Photos and videos, witness statements, medical expenses, lost wages, and physical evidence are excellent types of evidence to support your claim.
Try to photograph your injuries immediately after the attack and while you recover. Things like holes in the owner’s fence and anything else to show that the dog wasn’t properly restrained can be used as evidence.
For witness statements, reports will often include them to support the initial information. You can later talk to neighbors and those who have come into contact with the dog and witnessed prior aggressive behavior or who saw the dog running loose. Any medical expenses, records, and bills also help you in calculating your compensation.
Lost wages can be documented by asking your employer for a lost wage statement that details the time you missed and what your pay rate is. Any torn or bloody clothing should be bagged and kept safe. You can also take pictures of your damaged clothing.
Add up a list of all of your expenses, including ambulance bills, therapy bills, medical bills, out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost wages, and transportation expenses for medical appointments. These are all hard costs, also called “special damages.” You can also account for your pain and suffering.
For most dog bite injury cases, dog owners pay for the injuries. However, there have been cases that have ended with wrongful death. Negligent dog owners can also sometimes be convicted of criminal penalties. During a negligent or intentional attack, they can be held liable for crimes up to and including murder. Usually, if multiple owners own an animal, they’ll be held equally responsible.
Aggressive Dog Breeds
Some insurance companies may ask for the type of breed before issuing or renewing your insurance. Some insurance companies don’t provide coverage for certain dog breeds, such as American Pit Bull Terriers or Rottweilers. In places where there’s been a previous case of a dog bite, an insurer may charge dog owners more. They may also have dog owners of aggressive dogs restrain their dogs to prevent any dog injury incidents.
Get the Legal Help You Need for Your Dog Bite Case
When dealing with a personal injury case, it’s best to have a professional legal representative to plead your case. If you’ve been injured in a dog bite accident, you may be wondering who to turn to for help in moving forward. That’s where Truskett steps in. We’ll help you resolve your injury claim.
Truskett Law proudly serves the Tulsa community as personal injury lawyers. With over 13 years of experience in exclusively practicing personal injury law, we can help advocate for your case. We deeply care about you and your case. Our experienced lawyers will listen to your case and be able to give you sound legal advice. Contact us today for a free personal injury claim consultation. Don’t risk it. Call Truskett.