If you’ve ever rented an apartment with a leaky roof or slipped in an icy parking lot, you’ve at least had a brush with premises liability law.
Technically speaking, premises liability is an area of personal injury law involving injuries caused by unsafe conditions on a property. Private, commercial, or government-owned property accidents can result in premises liability claims.
In Oklahoma, premises liability laws have been tailored to protect people injured due to unsafe land or facilities. Although there are a few common types of premises liability claims, these claims can be complicated and should be handled with the assistance of experienced premises liability lawyers.
The most common type of claim is related to slip-and-fall accidents. Property owners who fail to maintain safe conditions open themselves up to liability claims if someone falls and gets hurt. If you were injured in a slip and fall, you could file a claim with the property owner’s insurance provider. But before filing this claim, you should probably consult with a premises liability lawyer. An attorney can advise you on how to deal with questions from an insurer and what reasonable compensation looks like for your case.
Another common type of premises liability claim is related to an attack from a dog or other animal. In addition to physical injury caused by the actual bite or mauling, animal attacks can also spread diseases like rabies. Animal attacks can also be traumatic and result in long-term medical treatment. Serious attacks are actually quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 800,000 dog bite incidents require medical attention each year.
Dog owners in Oklahoma may be held liable if their dog injures a person who was lawfully on their property and the attack was unprovoked. If the dog was provoked or the person attacked was not lawfully on the property, a dog owner in Oklahoma can only be held liable if they were otherwise negligent with their animal.
While falls and animal attacks are two more common types of claims, others include swimming pool accidents and damages caused by structural failure.
To prove a claim, premises liability lawyers must establish four basic elements: duty of care, breach of that duty, causation, and resulting damages.
A premises liability lawyer must first prove that a property owner had a duty of care to the claimant. This depends on the claimant’s status as a visitor to the property:
For example, a young child may be attracted to a swimming pool but not understand the risk of drowning. Owners with an attractive nuisance should put up barriers and other measures to protect potential trespassing young children.
If a duty of care can be established, a premises liability lawyer pursuing a claim must show that the duty was breached. For example, a breach of care might involve an invitee falling down broken stairs that a property owner had known about for weeks.
A premises liability lawyer must also be able to establish that a breach of duty either caused or contributed to a claimant’s injury. For example, a claimant must prove that they would not have been injured if it weren’t for a broken stair that the property owner forgot to fix.
Finally, a claimant must be able to prove that they suffered damages or losses as a result of the breach. This can be done, for instance, by providing medical records that show the extent of a debilitating injury and lost wages resulting from being unable to work.
After filing a claim with an insurance provider, you should expect the company to push back and minimize any potential compensation. For example, an insurer may try to show that a broken step was an “obvious hazard” that could have been easily avoided by stepping over it.
Experienced premises liability lawyers understand these common tactics. They also know that seemingly minor accidents can result in injuries that require extensive, long-term care. An attorney can seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If an accident resulted in death, surviving family members could pursue a premises liability claim to cover funeral expenses, loss of income, and other damages.
In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for filing a premises liability claim is two years from the date of the injury or two years from the date of an injured person’s death. Potential claimants forfeit their right to compensation if they do not bring a claim that isn’t brought within this timeframe.
That being said, potential claimants shouldn’t wait until almost two years before filing a claim. Understandably, getting over the shock and trauma of a serious injury takes time. However, a premises liability lawyer is put at more of a disadvantage the longer someone waits to file a claim. The passage of time can hamper a lawyer’s investigation and make a claim more difficult to prove.
Even though we bring the strength and experience of a national law firm, we also have boots on the ground in Oklahoma. Our team of personal injury lawyers in the Sooner State can assess your case and represent you against the insurance companies. Get started now to find out how we can help.
Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below.
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