When you go to a restaurant, hotel, or amusement park, you expect the premises to be safe for guests. Unfortunately, there are often hazards at these locations in the form of slippery, unmarked surfaces, unfenced pools, inadequate security, and more, which could lead to serious injuries. If you believe an unsafe condition contributed to your injury, you have a right to pursue financial compensation for any resulting losses.
At Abel Law Firm, we fight to recover compensation for victims of premises liability. Premises liability is a type of personal injury case that occurs when someone gets injured on another person’s property. Most premises liability result from slip and fall accidents; however, several other circumstances could lead to this type of case.
Anyone who is negligent in maintaining a safe environment for others could face financial responsibility. It’s crucial to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you after sustaining an injury. Abel Law Firm understands the complex nature of premises liability cases and how to seek the justice you deserve. Contact us at (405) 239-7046 today for a free consultation.
Elements of a Premises Liability Case
A premises liability case relies on the existence of negligence. It’s essential to establish that the property owner failed to maintain a safe environment for visitors. Each case is unique; however, you generally must prove the following:
- The property owner owned or maintained the property where the injury occurred;
- They knew or should have known about any hazards and failed to repair or remove them;
- The victim suffered bodily harm; and
- The at-fault party directly caused the injury.
A range of factors could cause someone to hurt themselves. The most common hazards that exist in premises liability accidents include:
- Slippery or wet surface
- Unsecured carpeting, flooring, or rug
- Cracked or uneven pavement, walkway, or sidewalk
- Poorly lit stairway
- Unmarked hazard or obstacle
- Electrical cords, wiring, or another object where people walk
- Loose or missing safety rail
- Inadequate lighting in the interior or exterior of a property
You’re entitled to compensation when your injury results from the property or business owner’s negligence. They have to make sure they repair the damage promptly or place appropriate warning signs if a hazard exists. The failure to actively prevent an injury from occurring is careless.
Victims of Premises Liability
A property owner’s responsibility depends mostly on the type of person who suffered an injury. The people who enter someone’s property fall under three categories: invitee, licensee, and trespasser.
- Invitee: An individual who enters a property that’s open to the public or provides a financial benefit to the owner. For example, a customer at a retail store or tenant in a rental property is an invitee.
- Licensee: A visitor or guest permitted to be on the property but holds no contractual relationship with the property owner.
- Trespasser: Someone who unlawfully enters a property or remains after the property owner asks them to leave.
Invitees typically become the victim of a premises liability case. Property and business owners don’t hold a responsibility to prevent harm to someone trespassing on their property.
Steps to Take After a Premises Liability Accident
Following are the steps you should take immediately following a premises liability accident:
- Report the incident. Tell the owner or manager what happened, but don’t admit to any fault. Notify them of the hazard or condition that caused your injury and the location of it on the property. Request that they file an incident report and get a copy of it for your records. Make sure to write down their name and contact information in case you need to speak with them again.
- Take pictures of the scene. Before you leave the property, be sure to take photos of the area where you got hurt. If there’s an obstruction, damage, or other type of hazard that led to your injury, you need a picture of it before someone repairs or removes it.
- Get witness information. If anyone saw what happened, get their name and phone number.
- See a medical professional. If you sustained any type of injury, you need to seek treatment from a physician. Medical records are one of the most critical pieces of evidence in a premises liability case. It proves your injury occurred at the property in question.
- Collect all records. Keep copies of your medical records, receipts, prescriptions, email correspondence, and anything else related to the incident.
- Hire a lawyer. A premises liability lawyer from Abel Law Firm can handle your entire case for you. We will guide you through each step and protect your rights.
Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma
A statute of limitations is the time limit to file a lawsuit in the civil court system. In the state of Oklahoma, the statute of limitations in premises liability cases is two years. If you think the property owner caused the dangerous condition that prompted your injury, you must sue them within two years from the date of the accident.
Once the statute of limitations passes, the court will likely dismiss your case if you try to file. The deadline is strict, and you can’t pursue any type of financial compensation if it passes. That’s why it’s vital to hire a premises liability lawyer immediately after the incident to ensure you don’t lose your opportunity.
How Comparative Negligence Could Affect Your Case
Unfortunately, Oklahoma follows a comparative negligence rule. If you pursue a case against the property owner, and they say you share some of the blame for your injury, it could reduce the amount of compensation you’re allowed to receive.
In premises liability, the negligent party uses the tactic of shared fault to pay you less money than you deserve. If an insurance adjuster or judge finds that your actions did partially cause the incident, you’ll likely receive a significantly lower financial award than if you didn’t share any fault.
The comparative negligence rule allows the injured party to pursue compensation based on the percentage of blame they share. Let’s say your injury was 20% your fault, and your expenses total $10,000. You could only pursue a maximum of $8,000 in a claim or lawsuit. That’s $10,000 minus 20%.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Oklahoma
Damages are the financial compensation you receive for your total expenses and additional losses. Compensatory damages fall under two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are expenses, while noneconomic damages are pain arising from the injury.
Oklahoma allows you to pursue the maximum settlement available for the following compensatory damages:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship or consortium
Determining the cost of your compensatory damages depends on three factors:
- Total compensatory damages available for recovery;
- Total economic losses; and
- Total noneconomic losses.
Oklahoma law allows you to seek full compensation for all your economic damages. When it comes to noneconomic losses, you can only receive up to a total of $350,000. Certain exceptions remove the cap on compensation for noneconomic damages if the party who caused your injury acted recklessly, was grossly negligent, or behaved with malice.
Punitive damages don’t reimburse you for your costs. Instead, they punish the person or entity responsible for your injury. They represent the egregious nature of the negligence that contributed to the harmful incident. A judge or jury typically awards the final amount for punitive damages sought in a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma law also places a limit on punitive damages. The most you’re allowed to receive is a maximum of $100,000 or the total amount of your economic costs directly from the party responsible for the event that led to your injury.
The Value of Your Premises Liability Case
While it’s difficult to predict the exact amount of money you could receive, premises liability lawyers will pursue a number that covers all your past and future expenses. You shouldn’t have to pay for any costs out of your own pocket. When someone else causes your injury, they should be held financially responsible.
Abel Law Firm will review the details of your case to determine the financial award you deserve. The factors we’ll need to consider before entering into negotiations for a settlement include:
- The severity of your injury;
- Total expenses incurred as a result of the premises liability incident;
- Noneconomic losses suffered because of the injury;
- Missed income due to time away from work;
- Duration of necessary medical treatment; and
- If any family members suffered because of the incident.
Our attorneys will negotiate firmly and skillfully to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation to cover your expenses and losses.
Hiring a Premises Liability Lawyer from Abel Law Firm
We understand you’re facing a substantial financial burden already. The medical bills have been piling up, and you’re feeling overwhelmed about paying them. You might be unable to return to work because of the pain you’re experiencing or a resulting disability.
At Abel Law Firm, it’s our goal to reduce your stress and make sure you don’t suffer any further. We work on contingency, so you don’t have to pay us any upfront or ongoing legal fees. Once we secure your compensation, we’ll take a percentage for our fee and costs. We don’t get paid unless you get paid.
We also offer a free consultation to discuss your case. You can meet with one of our premises liability lawyers and receive the legal advice you need. We’ll inform you of all the options available and help guide you towards the one that will work best for you.
Call Abel Law Firm to Schedule Your Free Consultation
Contact us at (405) 239-7046 to speak with one of our experienced and professional Tulsa personal injury lawyers. We’ll schedule your initial consultation and help you the seek justice and compensation you deserve for your premises liability injuries.