Hurt on Someone Else’s Property? We Can Help.
Everyone has a right to safety when visiting a personal residence or a business as a guest or customer. The owner, landlord, or property manager of these properties has a duty to their guests to take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent them from being harmed while on the property. If you are hurt in a slip, trip or fall, or other accident that causes harm, the OKC injury attorneys of Abel Law Firm can help you. We have built a reputation in Oklahoma for protecting individuals who the negligent actions of others have hurt, and we are ready to fight for you.
Business or private property owners are expected to inspect the premises and repair any unreasonable dangers to visitors, and if they fail to do so, they can be held accountable for any injuries people suffer. This responsibility for guests’ safety is legally known as premises liability and applies to several areas in and around a property, from staircases to broken floorboards.
Private residences and businesses can pose several threats to guests and patrons if property owners fail to maintain a safe environment. When property owners knowingly ignore problems or fail to repair or replace any amenities they are putting innocent people at risk of serious, life-altering injury. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to the recklessness or negligence of a property owner, it’s time to hold them responsible for any injuries that occur. Fortunately, you have legal options, and the Oklahoma City premises liability lawyers at Abel Law Firm are on your side. Contact us today at (405) 239-7046 and take the first step toward protecting your rights and moving on with your life.
Why Choose Us?
Premises liability cases, and personal injury cases, in general, can be extremely complicated and involved, especially when dealing with insurance companies and the defendant’s legal representatives. Our team of six lawyers has over 130 years of combined experience handling these cases, and we take pride in giving each case the individual care and commitment it deserves as if it were our only case. Not only are the Oklahoma City premises liability lawyers at Abel Law Firm experienced, professional, and aggressive in pursuit of getting our clients the financial compensation they deserve, but they are also committed to helping the community in a variety of ways through pro bono legal representation to children and helping provide healthcare to low-income persons. Call us today and speak with one of our legal representatives about your rights and legal options.
Cases We Handle
Premises liability laws cover a wide range of people visiting or legally entering a property including visitors, customers, contractors, construction workers, and anyone else invited onto the property. If a property owner knows of damage or a defect and cannot immediately fix the problem or replace it, he or she is required to at least post clear warning signs around the hazard to inform patrons, guests, and passersby of potential threats to their safety. Negligent property owners can cause injuries to their guests in a variety of different ways.
Many of these accidents can be severe and may alter every aspect of your and your family’s lives. You should consider discussing your case with our OKC premises liability lawyers if you or a member of your family has experienced a preventable injury from any of the following:
- Slip and Fall
- Elevator/Escalator Injuries
- Porch Collapse
- Stair Collapse
- Mercury Poisoning
- Swimming Pool Injuries
Not only can injuries from these cases affect your quality of life or prevent you from returning to work, they can also be fatal. In fact, statistics from the National Floor Safety Institute report that slip and fall accidents—the most common type of premises liability accident—are the third highest cause of unintentional death in the United States with over half of all accidental home deaths caused by falling. Unsafe homes and businesses can be especially dangerous for elderly people who pose an even higher risk of debilitating injuries or death in the event of a fall due to wet floors, icy conditions, or other unmarked dangers.
Common Injuries from Premises Liability Cases
The injuries can be equally diverse because premises liability cases cover such a wide array of possible hazards and accidents. Injuries from slipping and falling are by far the most common, but unsafe conditions on a property can cause a wide variety of debilitating injuries. Some injuries that can occur in premises liability cases include the following:
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Electric shock/electrocution
- Spinal Injuries
Classification of Visitors
To have a case and a chance of recovering financial compensation you must determine the purpose for being at the property. Visitors to commercial, government, or private properties fall in three categories:
- Invitee: Individuals on the property at the owner’s invitation, such as patrons at a business. Here, the landlord is most responsible for keeping conditions safe and free of danger.
- Licensee: Those on the property with the clear or implied consent of the owner minus reasons for commercial gains, like guests at a home or someone asking for directions. Owners owe these individuals the care of disclosing hidden dangers but aren’t required to fix them.
- Trespasser: A person who entered the property without authorization and owed very little duty for preventable injuries
If you were an invitee or licensee on someone’s property who suffered a serious injury caused by a negligent property owner, you might be left with a feeling of hopelessness and despair. On top of that, you may have dozens of questions keeping you up at night. That’s where we come in. Our Oklahoma City lawyers can help you recover financial compensation to pay for past and future medical bills, physical therapy and rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and several other damages.
Determining who is ultimately responsible for your accident or injury can be complicated in premises liability cases. Normally, the owner of the property on which the accident occurred would carry the most responsibility, but this depends on the circumstances of the accident.
The owner must maintain their property safely, but their responsibility toward visitors on their property depends on the visitor’s classification, discussed above. An owner will owe more to an invitee than a trespasser, though even in the case of a trespasser, the owner is still required to maintain certain standards.
Trespassers may be eligible for compensation
For example, if a property is vacant and an owner believes there is a good chance a trespasser will enter it, they might still bear some responsibility. Suppose a trespasser slipped and fell into an uncovered swimming pool and got hurt. If this occurs and the trespasser can prove that the owner was negligent in maintaining basic safety on their property, the owner can still be liable.
Special consideration is also made for children in premises liability cases. Oklahoma has an “attractive nuisance” doctrine that states that if a property owner is aware of a dangerous condition on their property that is attractive to children, such as an uncovered swimming pool, they can be held liable if a child trespasses and injures themselves.
Oklahoma also follows a “comparative negligence” doctrine. Comparative negligence is used to determine liability when multiple parties are at fault. For instance, if an invitee or social guest doesn’t take reasonable precautions to protect themselves and gets injured by slipping and falling on someone else’s property, they might share responsibility for their injuries with the property owner. With comparative negligence, each party is assigned a percentage of the fault in an accident. If the injured party is found to be more than 50% responsible for their accident and injury, they cannot recover any damages.
Premises Liability Claims Process
Filing a personal injury claim for your premises liability accident starts with retaining legal counsel. An experienced legal representative will help you investigate what happened, determine if your injury was preventable, and whether the property owner can be held responsible for your accident.
To prove liability, your attorney will need to show the following:
- That the defendant owned, leased, or occupied the property where your accident occurred
- That the defendant was somehow negligent in keeping the property safe
- That you were harmed on the property
- That the harm you suffered was caused by the defendant’s negligent action or inaction
Though this may seem straightforward, determining who is responsible can take time and research. Your attorney will need to conduct an investigation into the accident to build your personal injury claim.
An investigation can include several components, such as:
- Initial interview. Your attorney will sit down with you and ask questions about the accident and your injury to paint a picture of exactly how it occurred. They may ask about your purpose on the property, the time of day, the property’s condition, and whether anyone witnessed the accident.
- Evidence gathering. Your lawyer will then gather evidence to support your injury claim. This evidence includes medical records, police incident reports, leases or rental agreements, and eyewitness statements. It may also include photos of the property, surveillance video footage, and testimony from the property owner.
- Making the settlement demand. Once liability has been determined, and you and your attorney have decided on an appropriate amount to request in damages, your attorney can make a settlement demand to the defendant’s insurance company.
After the demand is issued, you’ll wait for the insurance company to respond. Your attorney may want to file a lawsuit in an Oklahoma court at this time to put pressure on the insurance company to respond to your claim and preserve your right to go to trial, if necessary.
The Insurance Companies Counteroffer
The insurance company can agree to meet your settlement demand, but this is unlikely. They will more often make a counteroffer. Settlement offers can be both good and bad, as they are usually less than the amount you request in damages, but they give you a guaranteed payout much faster than you might get if you take your case to trial. Also, if you decline a settlement offer and move forward with a trial, there is no guarantee that a judge or jury will rule in your favor.
Your lawyer and the insurance company will negotiate the settlement amount. If they can reach an agreement, there’ll be no need to go to court.
Alternatively, the insurance company can deny your claim, in which case your only option is to file suit.
Frequently Asked Questions
For many victims, the days and weeks following an accident caused by a reckless property owner’s actions can be a blur, leading to a growing pile of medical bills and many questions. Accidents on personal property can be especially confusing for victims who don’t want to take legal action against a friend or family member. At Abel Law Firm, our attorneys are here to answer any question you might have about your case and rights. To get started, we’ve provided you with the answers to many common questions we hear from people just like you.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability can be a confusing type of litigation due to the innumerable incidents that fall within its scope. When an individual is injured on the property of another due to circumstances that the property owner failed to fix or post warnings properly, that property owner may be held liable for the resulting injuries.
Individuals legally able to make a claim for premises liability generally must have been purposefully invited onto the property; therefore, trespassers are often not candidates for premises liability claims. However, when homeowners fail to clean up spills, repair torn carpets, or secure dangerous products, they may be liable for injuries their invited guests sustain due to these unsafe conditions.
What damages can I recover after being injured in a premises liability case?
The damages that can be recovered in a settlement or lawsuit depend greatly on the accident’s circumstances and the injury itself. In general, the more serious the accident or severe the injury, the more you should be able to recover from the responsible party.
You may be able to recover money for the following losses in a premises liability case:
- Medical bills: If you suffered a severe injury while on someone else’s property that required medical attention, you can recover damages for the costs of medical treatment. This refers to hospital stays, ER fees, emergency transport, medication, rehabilitation, or treatment.
- Lost wages: If an injury was severe enough to keep you from returning to work, you could recover damages for wages lost when you couldn’t work.
- Lost opportunity: Accidents put everything else in your life on hold. If a premises liability accident forces you to cancel future plans, such as vacation arrangements or other large expenses, you may be able to recover money to cover the loss.
- Pain and suffering: Premises liability accidents can be traumatic. An injury due to a collapsing structure or falling into an empty swimming pool can leave lasting psychological harm, even if it doesn’t cause severe injury. Compensation for pain and suffering is meant to cover the losses from an accident that are hard to quantify, such as mental distress and pain.
- Wrongful death: If the worst should happen during a premises liability case and an accident caused the death of a loved one, you can recover money for the mental and financial harm done to your family, but this will usually take the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Long-term care: If your injury was such that you would require long-term care or assistance with activities of daily living for the remainder of your life, any award of compensation for your injuries should also include money for those costs.
If it’s found that the party responsible for your accident was grossly negligent or acted with intent to harm others, you may also be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are different from compensation for monetary losses from an accident. They are awarded in a lawsuit by a judge or jury, specifically as punishment for the defendant’s actions if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted with intentional malice.
In Oklahoma, punitive damages are not insurable, meaning that if you are awarded punitive damages, they are paid out of the defendant’s pocket. Talk to your attorney about whether or not you can recover punitive damages for your case.
Is there a specific amount of time a hazard has to exist to hold a property owner liable?
Premises liability suits are extremely complicated and will depend on specific circumstances and details, like many aspects of your case. To recover damages, it isn’t enough to prove the plaintiff was injured due to a hazard on the property. You also have to prove negligence by the property owner or tenant. And while there isn’t a hard and fast rule on how long a property owner has to repair damages, courts will take into account a variety of factors and whether the property owner knew about the hazard and had a “reasonable amount of time” to take care of the problem or provide a proper warning.
Why do I need a premises liability lawyer?
Because the foundation of premises liability laws says that property owners and landlords are liable for any injury caused by an accident on their residential or commercial property, recovering financial compensation may seem straightforward. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. One must also prove the property owner knew of the dangers beforehand and was negligent by failing to take action and repair the hazard, making these cases uniquely intricate and involved. Courts look at many factors, such as the property’s condition, what the victim was doing at the time of the accident, as well as a variety of other factors that could work against you without a trained and experienced legal representative helping your file paperwork, gather testimony, and present evidence.
Many of these cases also occur on a friend or loved one’s property, making the lawsuit process even more complicated and often emotional. By having an attorney handle your case, you can stay out of the daily process and instead focus on your recovery.
How much does it cost to speak with and hire an attorney?
With expenses piling up following an accident, adding another from a personal injury lawyer may seem out of the question. At Abel Law Firm, we put our clients’ needs before our own, and that’s why we not only offer free consultations but also don’t collect any legal fees unless we win your case and recover the financial compensation you need. After winning your case or settling outside of court we take a portion of the settlement to cover our legal costs.
Premises Liability Facts and Statistics
Statistics regarding premises liability cases mostly refer to slip and fall injuries since that is the most common accident. Here are some interesting statistics regarding slip and fall injuries in the United States from the National Floor Safety Institute and CDC:
- Injuries from slipping and falling represent the leading cause of lost days from work.
- 20% of falls result in a serious head injury or broken bone.
- The leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in America is slipping and falling.
- Serious injuries from falls result in over 800,000 hospitalizations per year.
- The total medical cost for treating injuries due to slipping and falling in 2015 was more than $50 billion.
- 85% of worker’s compensation claims are due to slipping and falling on the job.
If you have been hurt in an accident on a commercial or residential property, you may be eligible to secure compensation for your medical expenses, bills, and other costs associated with the accident. Don’t trust your claim to just any attorney. Turn to the team that so many other people in Oklahoma have turned to in their time of need: Abel Law Firm. Let us put our experience to work for you, and don’t let this accident cause any more harm to your life than you have already suffered. We will fight for you from beginning to end. Contact the Oklahoma City premises liability lawyers at Abel Law Firm today at (405) 239-7046 to discuss the services we can provide for you.