Oklahoma has a specific law that pertains to injuries caused by dog bites. Below are five facts you should know about it.
- First, Oklahoma is a strict liability state in terms of dog bites. That means that the dog’s owner is liable for damages caused by a bite whether or not the owner knew—or should have known—that the dog was vicious enough to bite or cause other injury. Strict liability is much more encompassing than the laws in other states, which may use what is informally known as a “one-bite” rule. Under “one bite,” the owner cannot be held liable unless the dog had shown a disposition to bite previously.
- Second, the owner is liable for damages if 1) the dog bites or injures an individual in another way; 2) the injured individual did nothing to provoke the dog; and 3) the injured individual was in a place where he or she was lawfully entitled to be.
- Third, as the above indicates, the owner has recourse to a defense if the injured party provoked the dog in some way. Repeatedly physically taunting or throwing rocks at it, for example, might be deemed provocation.
- Fourth, strict liability also doesn’t apply if the person injured by the dog was trespassing. Under Oklahoma law, trespass is defined as being on private property without permission. The injured party is lawfully in a place if they have been invited onto private property or they are on public property such as a park, playground, or sidewalk.
- Fifth, a person carrying out a duty on private property has a lawful right to be there. A postal carrier, for example, or a police officer called to the home, will be deemed to have a lawful right.