The legal standard for pursuing a dog bite case in Oklahoma varies, depending upon whom the claim is against. Oklahoma has a strict liability statute for claims against dog owners and employs a different standard for claims against negligent landlords and property owners that permit dangerous dogs to be maintained or harbored on their premises. Establishing a valid case against a dog owner will be difficult without the help of an experienced Stillwater attorney. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.
Establishing a Valid Case Against a Dog Owner | Statute of Limitations
Oklahoma law has a 2-year statute of limitations for personal injuries occurring from a dog bite or dog attack. This means that the injured party must file their case in Court within 2 years of the incident or their case is permanently time-barred, meaning they can no longer pursue an award of damages for their injuries. Thus, it is extremely important that the injured party pursues their case as soon as possible so it is not dismissed by the Courts due to untimely filing. Another reason to initiate the case as soon as possible is the preservation of evidence, as witnesses’ memories often fade, and they become difficult to locate, or even die. Contacting a skilled Stillwater dog bite lawyer immediately will ensure the timely filing of your case, along with the preservation of all of your evidence so it is not loss.
Establishing a Valid Case Against a Dog Owner | Strict Liability
Oklahoma’s strict liability statute for claims against dog owners 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 injures any person while such person is in or on a place where he has a lawful right to be.”
What is important to note is that under this statute is that an injured party need not show proof that the dog owner possessed knowledge of the aggressive dog’s prior dangerous or viscous propensities in order to prevail. In fact, it doesn’t even require that the dog ever exhibited any prior vicious tendencies. However, the statute still requires the injured party to prove not only that they were lawfully on the property where the dog bite or dog attack occurred, but also that they did not provoke the dog to attack. While these showings may sound simple and straight-forward upon the face of the statute, factual issues about the meaning of provocation and whether or not the injured party was lawfully upon the premise where the attack occurred are frequently raised by dog owners and their lawyers as defenses to their liability for injuries.
If they can show that the injured party was trespassing at the time of the attack or that said party in any way provoked the dog into attacking, they can succeed in getting the injured party’s case thrown out of court. This is why it is essential to consult and retain a skilled Stillwater dog bite lawyer to navigate you through the traps that the at-fault party will stir up in an attempt to dismiss your case.