The Dog Bite Lawyers of Abel Law Firm
A dog bite can lead to severe injuries and even death in some instances. If you or a loved one suffered physical injuries from a dog attack, contact the Oklahoma City injury attorneys of Abel Law Firm immediately. You might be entitled to financial compensation from the owner for the harm you endured. We can help you hold them liable and seek the justice you deserve.
Since 1976, our personal injury lawyers have been representing injured victims. You can depend on us to fight by your side until the end. We will tirelessly work to reach a favorable outcome, so you can heal and move forward with your life. Call Abel Law Firm at (405) 239-7046 to learn about your legal options and how we can help.
Why Choose Abel Law Firm?
Our team of dedicated and compassionate Oklahoma City dog bite attorneys has over 130 years of combined experience. We care about our clients and will treat you as a priority while we’re working on your case. We believe in transparent communication, so you understand what to expect of the legal road ahead and can be prepared for various possible outcomes.
A dog bite can lead to psychological damage that lasts long after the physical injuries heal. We know an incident like this can cause stress, fear, and uncertainty. Afterward, making the right decisions is challenging when you’re in pain and worried about the treatment you might need to recover. That’s why you must hire us immediately after sustaining an injury. We can begin our work on your case so you can focus entirely on healing.
Our Oklahoma City dog bite attorneys have worked hard to earn an excellent reputation within our community. Multiple organizations have given us awards for our dedication to our clients and the successful case results we’ve achieved. We have also received a 10.0 rating from Avvo and an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
At Abel Law Firm, we aim to keep our community safe. We are active in our community and support local organizations, such as Living Faith Ministries, Living Hope Ministries, and Variety Care. We also provide pro bono legal services to needy children through the Oklahoma Lawyers for Children organization.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Dog Bite Claim?
Though you can pursue a personal injury claim on your own, an experienced attorney will make the process more efficient and probably get you compensation for your injury faster. A lawyer with experience in dog bite personal injury claims can take you through the entire claims process and help you be prepared for any obstacles. Reputation is important, and showing the insurance company that you’re taking your dog bite injury claim seriously by hiring an experienced, reputable attorney may prompt them to act more quickly in settling your claim.
An attorney from Abel Law Firm will know the legal loopholes and our experience with personal injury case law will give us a unique perspective. Personal injury law varies from state to state, and knowledge of local statutes and previous cases in the area is key to effectively handling a personal injury claim.
We also know how to accurately calculate an amount of compensation that matches your injury and circumstances. The compensation you can potentially recover doesn’t just cover actual bills. Among other things, you might be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering after an accident. We can evaluate your case and circumstances and determine what amount of money would provide full and fair compensation for your injuries and what you’ve endured due to your accident.
It’s important to remember that in a personal injury claim, you’re an individual up against an insurance company. Their job is to find a reason to deny your claim and protect their customer’s liability. They will use every tool to tie up your personal injury claim and delay any proceedings until you’re so desperate for funds that you’ll accept a settlement amount far below what you deserve. At Abel Law Firm, we know how to deal with these tactics.
If the insurance company does find a reason to deny your claim or offers a settlement below what we’ve determined is an appropriate value for your claim, filing suit against them in court is the next step. And again, although you can technically do this on your own, it would be extremely difficult without an attorney assisting you. Once a case goes to trial, any cash settlement offer is rescinded, and you are not guaranteed a positive outcome.
Having a lawyer to handle negotiations with insurance adjusters will take a substantial burden off your shoulders. Not only that, but having the assistance of a good attorney can get you more compensation than you could get on your own. According to a study from the Insurance Research Council 2004, personal injury victims that retained an attorney could obtain 3.5 times more compensation than those that didn’t. Having a good attorney pays off.
How Much Does a Dog Bite Attorney Cost?
Calculating costs for hiring an attorney is difficult because each case is unique. Here at Abel Law Firm, we work on a contingency-fee basis. That means you won’t owe us any money upfront. We don’t get paid until you get paid. If we don’t earn a settlement agreement or an award in court for you, you won’t owe us anything.
Steps You Should Take Following a Dog Bite Incident
Whether your dog bite injury involves a stray or someone’s pet, there are things you need to do immediately to protect your rights and ensure you can seek compensation for your losses. The time immediately after the accident won’t be your only concern. You must also focus on the weeks and months after the attack when you’ll obtain the evidence you need to build a strong case.
Right after the attack, you might need to call 911 or animal control, especially if the dog is a stray, to prevent it from attacking anyone else.
Once you leave the incident scene, you must go to the hospital for initial wound treatment. They’ll evaluate the damage and might administer shots for tetanus and rabies. You should follow their orders if the physician recommends surgery, physical therapy, or other medical care.
Insurance companies always look at the medical evidence provided to them during insurance claims. If there’s a gap in treatment or a lack of sufficient proof of an injury, they could deny your claim or offer a low settlement. Maintain any documentation associated with your case, including medical records and receipts, so that you can submit it as evidence.
You must also hire an Oklahoma City dog bite lawyer to represent you. Abel Law Firm can take on the responsibility of your claim or lawsuit, so your main focus can be attending doctor’s appointments and recovering. We can investigate what happened, track down witnesses, and determine the appropriate compensation to pursue.
Be sure to continue with your regularly scheduled appointments until your medical providers inform you that you’ve fully recovered or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means further treatment likely won’t improve your condition. They might recommend that you follow up in the future if you experience any pain or other symptoms from your injury.
When we request medical records from them, we’ll also ask that they include an estimated cost for future treatment you might need so we can add it to the monetary value of your case.
Abel Law Firm Will Perform a Thorough Investigation into the Dog Bite and Who Should Be Held Liable
Determining who should be financially responsible for your medical bills and other expenses is one of the most critical factors following a dog bite. According to Oklahoma statute § 42.1, the owner of a dog that bites someone without provocation becomes liable for the injured party’s expenses and intangible losses.
During our investigation, we must gather all the evidence to prove that the dog’s owner was at fault for your injuries. The evidence we collect will depend on the circumstances of your case but could include the following:
- Video surveillance of the attack
- The dog’s history of violence or causing other injuries
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Copies of your medical records and medical bills
- The estimated value of personal property damaged during the attack
- Photos from the incident scene
- Police reports
- Animal control documentation
The Oklahoma City dog bite attorneys of Abel Law Firm know how to prove the injuries you suffered resulted from someone else’s actions. You should not face the financial burden of medical bills, out-of-pocket costs, and other expenses when you didn’t cause the dog to bite you. We will aggressively pursue the maximum available compensation so you can afford your medical care.
Common Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
Dogs have strong jaws and sharp teeth. They can cause significant damage when they clamp down on a person’s arm, leg, or other body part. Large and aggressive dogs can tear through the skin and cause trauma to the nerves, tendons, and muscles beneath.
The most common injuries dog bite victims suffer are:
- Facial disfigurement
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Torn ligaments and tendons
- Tissue damage
- Head and face injuries
- Neck injuries
- Eye damage
- Psychological injuries, such as fear and post-traumatic stress disorder
When severe infections or sepsis occur, amputation of a limb might be necessary to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of the body. Some people don’t fully recover from their injuries and develop permanent disability. Severe physical and emotional harm can lead to a lifetime of pain, anxiety, and functional limitations. If you require ongoing treatment, it can affect your finances and lead to debt. Abel Law Firm will fight for the justice you deserve and work hard to secure a monetary award to cover your future losses.
Compensation You Might Be Entitled To in an Insurance Claim
The value of the insurance settlement you receive will depend on multiple factors, including the amount of available coverage. You could file a claim with the dog owner’s homeowners insurance if the incident happened on their property. If you were in public, such as a restaurant or store, you could file a claim with the property or business owner’s liability insurance company.
Whatever the source of compensation, the losses you can pursue may include:
- Diminished quality of life
- Damage to personal property
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Loss of consortium
Abel Law Firm will review your total losses and calculate the correct monetary value of your case to determine the compensation you deserve. Factors that might contribute to the settlement amount we demand on your behalf are:
- The type of injury and how serious it is
- The total cost of medical treatment
- The time you spent away from work while recovering
- The duration of necessary medical care
- The estimated cost of future doctor’s appointments, surgery, physical therapy, and other treatment needed
- Whether permanent impairment or disability resulting from the injury
- The amount of available insurance coverage
- The relevant evidence proving what happened
- The emotional trauma you suffered from the incident
Your Oklahoma City dog bite lawyer will aggressively negotiate for the maximum settlement you deserve. If the insurance company doesn’t agree to the amount we propose, we might need to file a lawsuit.
Oklahoma Laws Involved in Civil Lawsuits
If you want to sue the dog’s owner for compensation for your losses, you must adhere to a statute of limitations. This is the timeframe for initiating a lawsuit in the civil court system. Oklahoma has a two-year statute of limitations, meaning you must file your lawsuit within two years of the date of the dog bite injury. Courts strictly enforce this deadline. If you attempt to file after the statute expires, they will likely dismiss your case before it gets started, and you’ll lose the ability to seek compensation through the courts.
Besides pursuing the monetary value of your medical bills, mental anguish, and other losses, you can also attempt to obtain punitive damages. These damages aren’t compensation. Instead, a punitive damages award punishes the wrongdoer for their actions. A jury will only issue this award if you can prove with clear and convincing evidence that the dog’s owner acted with reckless disregard for other people’s rights.
Comparative negligence is a law that could reduce your total losses based on the percentage of fault you share for the incident. If a jury finds that your actions partially contributed to your injury, they could diminish your financial award. For example, if your losses total $20,000 but the jury determines you were 20% at fault for the dog bite, you could only collect up to $16,000 in compensation. However, you wouldn’t be entitled to any amount of money if your percentage of assigned blame exceeds 50%.
Dog Bite Injury Claims Process
The process of receiving compensation for your dog bite injury in Oklahoma starts with retaining good legal representation. An experienced personal injury law firm, like Abel Law Firm, will walk you through the process, which can be lengthy and complex.
We’ll start with an interview to get your side of what the story about happened before, during, and after the incident in question. We’ll ask loads of questions, including:
- What time of day was the incident?
- Was the dog leashed?
- Was the owner of the dog present?
- Were there any eyewitnesses?
If the dog that bit you was a friend’s pet, it might be comforting for you to know that their homeowner’s policy may provide coverage for their dog’s misbehavior. You won’t be going after money from your friend but from their insurance company.
After that, we can investigate what happened, as mentioned above. This investigation aims to gather enough evidence to support your claim that the liable party’s insurance company has little choice but to agree that you’re owed a settlement.
Once the investigation is complete, we’ll assess the value of your claim. Then we’ll present a settlement demand to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
After receiving your claim, the insurance company may investigate the dog bite injury to determine if your claim holds merit.
When and if the insurance company responds to your claim for damages, they will do so in one of a few ways. They can deny your claim outright, meaning they don’t believe it will stand up in court. They can approve your claim, meaning that they agree with the evidence you’ve presented and will pay the damages you requested. They can also offer a settlement.
A settlement is a cash amount offered when the insurance company finds some validity in your claim but doesn’t believe the amount of money you’ve requested is necessary to cover the losses from your injury. It’s usually substantially lower than the requested amount but is offered as a compromise.
If you and your attorney decide to accept the settlement offer, the case does not go to court, and you agree not to pursue any further compensation for your injury. A settlement offer can sometimes be very good because it is available immediately to cover costs like medical bills or other losses, and it eliminates a lot of time and cost required to take your case to trial.
If you and your attorney decide to reject the settlement offer, the final step is to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will argue in court that you deserve the full damages requested in your claim and that the settlement offer was insufficient. A judge or jury will decide whether they agree and issue a ruling. The benefit of going to trial is that you can get the entire amount of compensatory damages requested. The danger is that you could lose your case and receive nothing.
Dog Bite Facts and Statistics
Here are some facts and figures related to personal injury claims for dog bites:
- Over 63 million homes in America have dogs. The American Veterinary Association says the country has around 77 million dogs.
- The CDC states that over 1,000 people in America are treated daily for dog bite injuries.
- The average cost per dog bite injury claim rose over 12% from 2019 to 2020 to just over $50,000.
- According to the Insurance Information Institute, the total amount paid for personal injury claims relating to dog bites in 2020 was over $854 million.
- Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 4.5 million dog bites in the United States annually.
- A study from 2010 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found an 86% increase in hospitalization for dog bites between 1993 and 2008.
- That same study found that the cost of a hospital stay following a dog bite was almost 50% higher than other injuries.
- The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that almost 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery for dog bites in 2018.
- People living in rural areas are far more likely to have dog bites requiring a Emergency Room visit. In 2008, there were four times as many emergency room visits and three times as many hospital stays related to dog bite injuries in rural areas as opposed to urban areas.
- California has the highest number of dog bite injury claims, with just over 2,000 claims last year.
How To Avoid Dog Bites
The best way to avoid dealing with a dog bite personal injury claim in Oklahoma is not to be bitten. Here are some tips to help you or your family stay safe around dogs:
- Use Caution. Even a small dog can bite with incredible force, so don’t approach any dog unless you’re sure it’s safe.
- Be Polite. A dog pays attention to physical and auditory cues and body language, so avoid large gestures and loud speech when approaching an unfamiliar dog.
- Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Surprising or approaching an unfamiliar dog that’s asleep can be dangerous.
- Dogs are Protective. Dogs react violently if they believe their owners are in danger, so avoid aggressive movements or speech when talking to them.
- Pay Attention to Visual Cues. If a dog’s ears are down, it has a stiff tail, or baring its teeth, stay away.
Dog Bite Frequently Asked Questions
At Abel Law Firm, we receive various questions from clients about what they should and shouldn’t do after a dog attack and how much money they might receive from a claim. We answer the most commonly asked questions below so you can prepare yourself for what comes next. If you want to discuss your case in detail, you should contact us for a free consultation.
Besides following specific steps after you suffer injuries from a dog bite, there are some things you should avoid doing.
- Don’t discuss your case with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The representative might call to ask you questions about the incident and obtain information from you. You might think it’s an innocent conversation, but they’re looking for a valid reason to shift blame from their policyholder to you so they can deny the claim. Tell them you hired a lawyer and give them our contact information.
- Don’t post anything on social media. Many people are surprised to find out that insurance companies and defense attorneys look at the victim’s social media accounts for evidence. If you post pictures online that clearly show your injury isn’t as serious as you claimed, it could negatively affect the outcome of your case.
- Don’t sign anything from the insurance company. If you receive authorizations, release forms, or other documents from the insurance company, don’t sign them without talking to us first. You could unknowingly waive your rights to the maximum available settlement or the opportunity to pursue a lawsuit.
A common problem dog bite victims face is getting hurt on a rental property. State laws don’t require tenants to purchase renter’s insurance, and there isn’t a homeowners policy because they don’t own their apartment or house. If you own your home, you could review your policy to determine if your insurance company covers dog bites on another person’s property. You could also check with your auto insurance. There might be coverage for dog bite injuries. Every insurance company has different coverage options and requirements. Your attorney can request all available policies to explore the choices you have for seeking compensation.
Yes, but only to obtain specific information, such as their name, contact information, and details about their dog. However, you shouldn’t get into a long discussion with them. You could inadvertently say something that hurts your case. For example, they seem visibly upset about their dog injuring you, and as a way to make them feel better, you tell them it’s “not a big deal.” Their defense attorney could use your words against you later to minimize the severity of your injury. Let your attorney communicate with all parties involved in the case.