Summer is in full swing, and people across Oklahoma are bringing Fido and Fluffy along to events, parades, and parks. As much fun as it is to have our furry friends accompany us on our summer excursions, it’s not without risks. The possibility of getting bitten or mauled by a dangerous dog is real and one that everyone should be aware of. In this blog, our dog bite lawyers outline what to do if you’ve been attacked in a public space like a parade, park, or fair.
4 Things You Need to Know About Oklahoma Dog Laws
As much as we’d like to imagine that all pet owners safely and responsibly handle their animals, more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. every year. Children are often victims, although dog attacks can happen to anyone.
While Oklahoma has many state and municipal laws that aim to reduce dog attacks, many people don’t understand these laws. Here are four essential things that may protect you and your loved ones.
1. Oklahoma Doesn’t Give Dogs a “Free Bite”
Oklahoma has a strict liability dog bite law. This means that a dog owner is responsible for their dog’s actions, even if their dog has never bitten someone before or acted aggressively. Under a theory of strict liability, you do not have to show that the owner was negligent, instead you simply must prove that their dog caused your injuries.
In Oklahoma, the owner is strictly liable for their dog’s bites under certain circumstances.
- The victim did not provoke the dog.
- You were not trespassing at the time of the attack.
Importantly, strict liability only applies in cities and towns. If a dog bites you in a rural area, you will have to prove that the owner’s negligence contributed to the attack.
So, if you’re in a public space like a park, parade, or even on a sidewalk and a dog attacks you unprovoked, it’s likely that the owner is financially responsible for your injuries. There is simply no excuse for their animal’s dangerous behavior.
2. Many Communities Have Leash Laws
There are a variety of leash laws that apply to Oklahoma’s dogs. Under state law, dogs must be leashed at state parks and other recreational areas. Furthermore, most cities, including Oklahoma City, require all dogs to be leashed.
Once a dog attacks someone, additional rules apply when they’re outside. If the authorities have already designated a dog as “dangerous,” the owner must keep it in a safe enclosure and use a leash and muzzle when the dog is in public.
3. Many Fairgrounds Only Allow Service Animals, But People Break the Rules
Service dogs are specially trained and support individuals with disabilities. It’s rare for them to attack anyone, so the likelihood of being bitten by a service dog is low. Unfortunately, some irresponsible pet owners try to pass their dogs off as service animals, using fake vests and documents.
While a new law will allow landlords to demand proof of disability from tenants requesting an accommodation for their service animal, business owners and other individuals typically cannot demand proof that a service animal is legitimate.
However, if someone brings a dangerous dog that is not strictly a service animal to a parade or fair, the negligent owner may be liable for your injuries.
4. Many Homeowner’s Insurance Policies Cover Dog Bites
Even if the attack occurs in a public place, the owner’s insurance policies may cover your injuries. However, you’ll need to take a careful look at the policy language. For example, some homeowner’s insurance policies specifically exclude certain breeds from their coverage.
Under Oklahoma law, if a dog has a history of dangerous behavior, the owner must carry a minimum of $50,000 in insurance coverage for dog bites. This additional coverage is often included in their homeowner’s policy.
RELATED ARTICLE: Common Excuses for Dog Bites, and Why They Don’t Hold Up in Court
What to Do if You’ve Been Bitten by a Dangerous Dog in Oklahoma
After a dog attack, you can protect yourself by taking these steps:
Seek Medical Care Immediately
Don’t wait to seek medical attention if you’ve been bitten by a dog, even if you think it’s a minor wound. Dogs’ mouths contain germs and bacteria, including the dangerous Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which can cause life-threatening problems for those with reduced immune function. While cleaning the wound at home can reduce your chances of infection, it’s still in your best interest to go to the doctor for treatment.
Additionally, your medical records will serve as powerful evidence if you decide to file an injury claim. Your doctor will document your injuries, identify the severity of the bites, and suggest a course of treatment, which can help you understand the value of your claims.
Gather Evidence After a Dog Attack
First, you should call 911. Depending on your situation, you may need help from the police, animal control, and paramedics during and after a dog attack.
Dog bite victims experience a tremendous amount of fear, shock, and pain. As easy as it can be to get lost in these emotions, don’t let them keep you from taking steps to protect yourself. Get the name and contact information of the dog owner if you can, and the names and phone numbers of any witnesses who saw the attack. Take photos of your wounds and write down everything you can remember about the incident.
Call a Dog Bite Attorney
Many victims have serious medical bills, lost wages, and tremendous stress piling up in their lives. When you need help getting your life back on track, an empathetic, experienced dog bite attorney can be a tremendous ally. They’ll listen to your story, give you advice on how to best care for yourself and your family, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Get Your Free Dog Bite Case Evaluation With AMA Law
At AMA Law, we understand that dog bites and attacks are some of the most stressful and traumatizing events that a person can experience. We’ve dedicated our careers to helping people just like you recover from these terrifying events. If you need help after a dog attack, we’ll evaluate your case for free.
Bacteria from your pet’s mouth: How dangerous is it? (2016, July 13). American Council on Science and Health. Retrieved from https://www.acsh.org/news/2016/07/13/bacteria-from-your-pets-mouth-how-dangerous-is-it
Oklahoma City Municipal Code §8-39. Retrieved from https://library.municode.com/ok/oklahoma_city/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=OKMUCO2010_CH8AN_ARTIINGE_DIV4COCOANOWDOCA_S8-39CODORE
Gilchrist, J., Sacks, J.J., White, D., Kresnow, M-J (2008). Dog bites: Still a problem? Injury Prevention. Retrieved from https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/14/5/296.long
H.B. 3282 (2018). Retrieved from https://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2017-18%20ENR/hB/HB3282%20ENR.PDF
Okla. Stat. tit. 4 §42.1. Retrieved from https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=64735
Okla. Stat. tit. 4 §42.3. Retrieved from https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=64737
Okla. Stat. tit. 4 §45. Retrieved from https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=64740
Okla. Stat. tit. 4 §46. Retrieved from https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=64741
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.