When property owners are negligent or careless in maintaining their property, innocent people can sustain painful, debilitating injuries.
Oklahoma premises liability laws provide a legal remedy for people injured on another party’s property. The laws provide a way for victims to recover compensation or their injuries, losses, and damages.
If you are injured on another party’s property, a premises liability attorney can help you pursue justice.
At the McGuire Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers in Oklahoma City have experience handling premises liability claims. Contact our office to speak with an attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights after being injured on another person’s property.
What is A Premises Liability Claim?
A property owner’s legal obligation to maintain property safely for guests and visitors falls within premises liability law.
Premises liability is the duty of care a property owner has to ensure the safety of people who enter the property. When a property owner fails in this duty of care, the owner could be held liable for damages sustained by anyone injured on the property.
Premises liability covers most individuals who enter the property legally. In general, trespassers do not have a right to file a premises liability claim. However, there an exception could exist if the property was inherently dangerous and the owner did not post warnings or if the trespasser is a child.
In most premises liability cases in Oklahoma, a property owner can be responsible for damages if the owner:
- Owed a duty of care to the person who was injured;
- Breached the duty of care by failing to maintain safe premises;
- Knew or should have known about a dangerous or hazardous condition and failed to do anything about it;
- The property condition was the direct and proximate cause of the person’s injury; and,
- The person was injured and suffered damages because of the property condition.
Common Causes of Accidents Covered by Premises Liability Laws in Oklahoma
Premises liability claims cover a wide variety of accidents and injuries that occur on another party’s property. While slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common causes of accidents covered by premises liability, other incidents can give rise to a premises liability claim in Oklahoma.
Examples of cases involving premises liability laws include:
- Slip and fall accidents (wet floors, unsafe walkways, damaged flooring, tripping hazards, etc.)
- Swimming pool accidents
- Improperly maintained sidewalks, parking lots, and stairs
- Electrocution and effective electrical wiring
- Insufficient security and improper lighting
- Malfunctioning or improperly maintained escalators and elevators
- Accidents at hotels, resorts, and amusement parks
- Playground accidents
- Poor construction or shoddy construction materials
- Building code violations
- Improper and inadequate property maintenance
- Dog and other animal attacks
Almost any injury that occurs on another party’s property could fall within a premises liability claim if the property owner failed to take reasonable steps to provide a safe environment for visitors and guests.
Common Premises Liability Injuries
The injuries sustained in Oklahoma premises liability accidents vary from minor bruises and bumps to permanent disabilities. Falls are serious accidents. Victims who slip, trip, or fall can sustain injuries including:
- Back injuries, including spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Neck injuries, including whiplash and fractured vertebrae
- Head and brain injuries, including fractured skulls, contusions, traumatic brain injury, and concussions
- Broken bones and complex fractures
The severity and type of injuries depend on the circumstances of the accident. The severity and type of injuries also impact the damages that might be included in the premises liability claim and the value of the premises liability claim.
Damages Available for Victims of Premises Liability Accidents
Oklahoma premises liability laws hold a property owner liable for economic and noneconomic damages. Examples of damages in a premises liability claim include, but are not limited to:
- Cost of medical treatment, including hospital bills, doctor’s bills, therapy, medications, diagnostic tests, surgeries, and medical equipment
- Cost of personal care, including assistance with activities of daily living and help with household chores
- Loss of income, including future lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring, impairments, disabilities, and disfigurement
The value of the premises liability claim depends on several factors. The severity of the injuries is one factor. Other factors include the financial losses, whether the person sustained a permanent disability, and the level of pain and suffering.
However, the availability of insurance proceeds and the property owner’s personal resources can also impact the value of a premises liability claim. If insurance coverage is not enough to pay the claim, a premises liability lawsuit may be necessary to obtain a monetary judgment against the property owner.
A monetary judgment does not guarantee payment, but it can increase the chance of additional compensation if the property owner has substantial property and resources.
How Long Do I Have to File a Premises Liability Claim in Oklahoma?
A Statute of Limitations sets a deadline for filing a premises liability lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline expires, you lose the legal right to seek compensation for damages from the property owner.
In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for a premises liability claim is two years from the date of the injury. There are exceptions to the two-year deadline for filing a lawsuit.
For example, if the victim discovers the injury at a later time, the victim may have additional time to file a premises liability lawsuit. If the victim is a minor, there could also be additional time to file a lawsuit for a premises liability injury.
Because the time to file a lawsuit is limited, it can be helpful to contact an Oklahoma City premises liability lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Why Do I Need an Oklahoma City Premises Liability Lawyer?
An Oklahoma City premises liability attorney promptly reviews your case to determine if you have a valid claim. Other steps that your attorney takes to protect your claim and best interests include, but are not limited to:
- Thoroughly investigating the accident to gather evidence proving cause;
- Interviewing witnesses and taking statements;
- Obtaining copies of medical records documenting physical injuries;
- Identifying the parties liable for the injury and reviewing insurance coverage;
- Researching laws applicable to your case;
- Filing insurance claims and dealing with the insurance company;
- Documenting damages and calculating the value of the premises liability claim;
- Negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance company and property owner; and,
- Preparing and filing a premises liability lawsuit, if necessary.
An experienced Oklahoma City premises liability lawyer works to protect your best interest throughout the case. The insurance company has a team of professionals working to protect it from liability. A large company may have a team of lawyers working to protect it from liability for a slip and fall on its premises.
Hiring an attorney to handle your claim evens the playing field. It also ensures that your claim receives the time and attention necessary to build a strong case of negligence by the property owner. You can focus your energy and time on recovering from your injuries while your attorney focuses on protecting your legal rights.
What Happens if I am Partially to Blame for My Injury?
Oklahoma uses a comparative fault standard for assigning damages in a personal injury claim. Recovery of compensation is not barred if the victim is partially at fault for the cause of the injury, but compensation can be reduced.
However, you cannot be more than one-half at fault for the cause of your injury to recover compensation. If you are 51 percent or more at fault for causing your injury, you cannot recover any money from the property owner. If you are 50 percent or less at fault, your compensation decreases by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the injury.
For instance, if a jury finds that you contributed to the cause of your injury by 30 percent, any verdict for damages is reduced by 30 percent. A claim worth $100,000 would result in a $70,000 payment ($100,000 less 30 percent).
How Common are Premises Liability Accidents?
Premises liability accidents are common in the United States, including throughout Oklahoma. Falls are one of the most common types of premises liability claims. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls are the cause of about one-third of non-fatal injuries.
Drowning, another common premises liability accident, is the leading cause of unintentional deaths in children ages one through four. Electrical injuries are also common. About 1,000 deaths per year are the result of electrical injuries.
Playground injuries account for more than 200,000 visits to the hospital each year by children 14 years of age and younger. Dog attacks and dog bites also account for numerous hospital visits each year.
However, the injury occurred, if a property owner is responsible, the victim can benefit from the advice and counsel of an experienced premises liability lawyer in Oklahoma City.
Contact an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney in Oklahoma City
If you are injured while on another person’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses and damages. However, premises liability cases are complex personal injury matters. We encourage you to contact McGuire Law Firm for a free consultation with a lawyer.
Get the facts and information you need to protect yourself and your family. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries when a property is negligent or reckless.