Anyone who’s been attacked and bitten by an animal will tell you that it’s a serious, scarring event, especially when the bite occurs during childhood. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog or other domestic animal, you should seek medical attention right away. Once the victim is safe and stable, your next step should be to contact a skilled personal injury attorney with experience litigating dog bite claims.
Keep reading to learn more about animal bite laws in Oklahoma and find out how to pursue legal action if you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of a dog bite.
Understanding Dog Bite Liability and Insurance Coverage
According to a report compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite victims in the U.S. filed roughly 18,500 claims in 2017. The average cost per claim was more than $37,000.
Many people don’t know that insurance policies for renters and homeowners often include coverage for dog bites. Therefore, if a dog bites you, the dog owner’s insurance might cover the resulting damages (or at least a significant portion of them).
Even if the dog owner doesn’t have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, other types of insurance might cover the claim. In the event of a bite, your attorney should investigate and uncover any relevant insurance policies, including landlord, condominium, and general commercial liability. If the bite happened in connection with vehicle use, the defendant’s auto insurance might even cover the resulting damages.
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Do I Need a Lawyer for My Dog Bite Case?
Some Dog Owners Lie About Coverage After a Bite
Occasionally, dog owners who are facing a bite claim lie about their insurance coverage to avoid filing a claim with their insurance company and potentially increasing their premiums. If the dog has bitten someone before, the owner might even lose their coverage altogether and find themselves unable to purchase coverage from their former insurer.
Another reason dog owners sometimes claim not to have coverage is to deter victims from pursuing financial compensation or legal action. Their goal is to make victims assume filing their claims won’t be worth the trouble since no insurance coverage is available.
However, laws in Oklahoma and most other states require animal owners to disclose their insurance information, so make sure to press the owner if they claim not to have coverage. Some dog owners don’t even know they have coverage that applies to dog bite incidents, so you may need to inform them that their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy may provide coverage.
In rare cases, the dog’s owner truly has no coverage for bites from any of their insurance policies. For instance, some companies refuse to provide coverage to owners who keep certain dog breeds such as pit bulls and rottweilers, and they may also refuse coverage to people who purchase exotic pets like large snakes or big cats.
Oklahoma Applies Strict Liability for Dog Bites
Oklahoma’s law regarding dog bites is called a “strict liability” statute because it holds animal owners liable for all damages that result from a bite. The only exceptions occur if the victim provoked the animal (for example, by hitting it, taunting it, or threatening its owner) or if the victim was trespassing and had no legal right to be in the location where the bite occurred.
Oklahoma’s strict liability statute doesn’t allow dog owners to defend themselves against liability by claiming they didn’t know the dog would bite. Also, the injury doesn’t have to result from a bite for the owner to be held liable. For example, if a dog causes an injury by jumping on someone and knocking them down, the victim can pursue legal action and potentially receive financial compensation.
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Common Excuses for Dog Bites and Why They Don’t Hold Up in Court
Despite our state’s strict laws, however, the dog owner’s insurance company will likely try to fight your claim and avoid paying for your injuries. They may argue that you provoked the dog somehow through your actions or otherwise try to blame you for your injuries. To fight back against these tactics, you’ll need help from an experienced dog bite lawyer.
Injured by a Dog Bite in Oklahoma? Contact Atkins & Markoff for Your Free Consultation
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of a dog bite or any other type of animal attack, you have the right to file a personal injury claim that may be able to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, compiling your medical information and establishing your damages can be a challenging and time-consuming process, which is why you should speak with an experienced attorney before pursuing legal action.
The attorneys and support staff at Atkins and Markoff have years of experience handling dog bite claims and recovering compensation for injured victims in Oklahoma. To schedule your free, no-risk consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (405) 607-8757 or complete this brief form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.