When Dogs Attack: Oklahoma Dog Bites - The Facts and the Law - Part 1
Studies estimate that on any given day, nearly 1,000 people visit an emergency room as the result of a dog bite. While most attacks are not fatal, the facts actually show that 23 people died from dog bite wounds in 2008 in the United States. The year before, the number had skyrocketed to 33 deaths as a result of vicious dog attacks in the U.S. in 2007.
Children are especially at risk for dog bites. One of the biggest threats for childhood injury comes actually comes from “man’s best friend”. In fact, dog bites are the fifth most common cause of visits to the emergency room for children in our country. While adolescents are at a much higher risk for dog bites because of their curiosity, people of all ages are bitten daily and some suffer severe, disfiguring injuries.
In Oklahoma, no negligence or intent is required for legal liability to the victims of dog bites. We are a statutory strict liability state when it comes to dog attacks, which means dogs don't get "one free bite" in Oklahoma and dog owners are fully responsible all injuries caused by their dogs. Our dog bite laws clearly state that:
The owner of any dog shall be liable for damages to the full amount of any damages sustained when his dog, without provocation, bites or injures any person while such person is in or on a place where he has a lawful right to be.
Even if the dog is not known to be dangerous and has never displayed signs of hostility before, the owner is still liable for the full amount of medical bills and other damages caused by the bite. Normally, the dog owner's homeowner's insurance is responsible for paying on injury claims from dog attacks. Oklahoma dog bite laws state that if an attack happens while the victim is legally on private property (as an invited guest, to deliver mail, etc.) or, even while on public property, the owner is typically liable, as long as the victim was not intentionally and repeatedly antagonizing or provoking the animal.