Common Excuses for Dog Bites and Why They Don’t Hold Up in Court

Common Excuses for Dog Bites and Why They Don’t Hold Up in Court

If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog in Oklahoma, you deserve to know your rights, get justice, and seek compensation for your injuries. Being attacked by a dog can leave physical and emotional scars that last a lifetime, especially when the victim is a child.

No matter how clear a case might seem to you as the victim, the dog owner — and their insurance company — can still try to deny you the compensation you deserve. Below, we’ll discuss common arguments used against victims of dog bites and explain why they often don’t fail to hold up in court. 

“This is the first time my dog has bitten anyone. They’re really a good dog!”

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have to prove the dog had “previously been aggressive.” If you live outside the city limits, the burden of proof is on the victim. Within the city limits, however, even if a dog has never bitten anyone before and by all counts was sweet and loving, the owners are still liable under Oklahoma law for any damages the dog causes. And if a dog does have a history of biting, it’s illegal for them to be out without a leash and muzzle.

“You shouldn’t have been by my house.”

If you have legal reason to be on someone’s personal property — you were reading the meter, there to service an appliance, at a cookout, etc. — you have a lawful right to be at someone’s house. You also have a lawful right to be on public property, like a sidewalk by someone’s residence or a park. If you were bitten by a dog in a place you had a lawful right to be, the dog owner is likely responsible for your injuries. If you were trespassing on private property or provoking the dog to attack, the owner may not be liable.

“You assumed the risk of a dog bite by entering my yard.”

Legally, “assumption of risk” means that you take on the responsibility for your well-being when you decide to do something that is clearly dangerous. A mailman entering a yard with a snarling and jumping dog might seem like they are assuming the risk of being bitten. However, Oklahoma’s strict liability statute states that the dog owner is liable as long as the victim was not trespassing or provoking the dog.

“I had the dog locked up! I didn’t know they’d get out!”

If a dog escapes a poorly constructed enclosure and bites someone, the owner can likely be considered both negligent and liable because the faulty fence was not enough to contain their dangerous dog. But victims are not required to prove negligence, as the strict liability statute protects them. They just need to prove liability. In the case of a child being on the property, it is generally expected that the dog owner would be sure the animal would not be able to harm the child.

“I don’t have to pay for your bills.”

Oklahoma law states that dog owners assume full responsibility for the damages caused by their dog. And any compensation owed to dog bite victims is usually covered by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance, not the dog’s owner. In the case of dog bite injuries, you could be eligible for compensation covering several issues related to the incident. For example, you should be compensated for medical procedures needed as a result of your injuries, like repairing broken bones, stitching lacerations, surgical reconstruction, skin grafts, etc. You may also be eligible for reimbursement related to missed work due to your dog bite injuries and recovery. Compensation can also cover pain and suffering, future lost earning potential, and other losses you have experienced from a dog bite. One of the qualified and experienced attorneys at Atkins & Markoff can help you determine what compensation you’re eligible for during a free consultation.

“The bite happened a long time ago. Let it go.”

If you file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the dog bite, you are within the statute of limitations and can file a suit. Although there are a few exceptions you could speak with a lawyer about, after the two-year statute expires, you generally don’t have the option to sue. Don’t let someone else’s idea of a “long time” keep you from seeking justice.

“I’m not the owner of that dog.”

To be responsible for your dog bite injuries, a person doesn’t have to be the “owner” of a dog per se. They just have to be in a position of control or care for the animal to be considered liable. There are a few ways to prove dog ownership in court. This can be done through vaccination records or licensing, personal testimony, or other evidence.

Contact Atkins & Markoff if You’ve Been Bitten by a Dangerous Dog in Oklahoma.

A sense of closure and compensation can be instrumental in helping victims recover after traumatic incidents like dog bites. Consulting with a qualified and experienced attorney is a great first step to help you tell your story and learn about what compensation you could be eligible for. And at Atkins & Markoff, we offer free consultations so you can get your questions answered and receive honest advice about what you should do after being hurt by someone else’s dog.

If you or your child has been attacked by a dog in Oklahoma, contact Atkins & Markoff today by calling 405-607-8757, or completing our brief online contact form. We’ll get back to you promptly. Remember, your consultation is free, and you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless you get a settlement or win in court. Don’t let the statute of limitations run out when you have a case — contact us today!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.